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Field hockey splits series against W&M, Richmond

After field hockey's disappointing loss to 20th-ranked William and Mary 2-1, earlier this weekend, coach Liz Tchou decided to scrap her usual emphasis on a coach-oriented game plan and allow her senior captains to motivate the team.

"We felt like [the players] were taking our game plan too literally, so Angie [North] and Liz [Bateman] gave the team their own," coach Liz Tchou said. "In the end, they have to read the field and come out and play with attitude and heart."

The change seemed to do the Blue Devils good, as Duke (5-2) shook off a two-game losing streak and blanked Richmond 3-0 Sunday. The shutout marked the eighth-ranked Blue Devils' third of the season.

"Saturday we were frazzled and everyone played individually," North said. "We wanted to bring the team back together and attack as a team."

Not surprisingly, freshman sharpshooter Johanna Bischof scored first for the Blue Devils halfway through the first half for her team-leading fifth goal of the year. Bischof has had the hot stick so far this season, a feat which has made her a defensive target for Duke's opponents.

"We know how to run our offense," Bateman said. "With the other team focusing on Johanna, it opens the rest of us up and makes it easier to score."

This weekend, though, the Blue Devils showed the kind of balanced scoring that took the pressure off of Bischof and allowed Duke to mount a more team-based attack.

"Our main weakness against William and Mary was that the midfielders were not attacking and our lines were not connected," Tchou said. "All of our lines were connected today."

In the second half, midfielder Chrissy Ashley and sophomore forward Stacey Tsougas spread the Richmond defense to score their first goals of the season. Ashley's goal came off the recently revamped Duke corner offense, which was tweaked to allow the Blue Devils more scoring opportunities.

After a two-week hiatus, Duke returned to action Saturday against William and Mary. The Blue Devils scored first in the contest when sophomore Kim Gogola found the back of the net for her first goal of the season. Seniors Robin Merritt and Bateman assisted her on the play, with Bateman recording her team-high fourth assist of the year.

But the initial effort was not enough for the Blue Devils to sit back and rely on their defense, as the Tribe's Kristen Southerland scored back-to-back goals to best Duke.

"Our defense didn't perform as well against William and Mary," North said. "As a defensive unit we played more individually than we should have. So we got together and decided to win as a team and lose as a team. Today, we were all of he same mind."

With another win under their belt, the Blue Devils will face No. 1 North Carolina on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Francis Henry Stadium.

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