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Wake captures preseason matchup

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Unlike the U.S. Olympic basketball team, the Duke field hockey team takes exhibition matches seriously.

Minutes into Saturday’s scrimmage between the Demon Deacons and the Blue Devils, Gracie Sorbello showed everyone just how seriously.

In a clean but powerful attempt to steal the ball, the senior back lowered her shoulder and collided with a Wake Forest attacker who was receiving a pass. The player, her stick, and the ball went flying out of bounds—all in different directions.

The intensity showed this was no ordinary exhibition game. In a rematch of last year’s NCAA Championship game, when Duke lost to Wake Forest, the Demon Deacons had an encore performance, toppling the Blue Devils 2-0 at Kentner Stadium. The teams also met last year in the ACC Championship finals and twice during the regular season. The Demon Deacons dominated the Blue Devils last year, winning all but one regular season contest.

Saturday the teams played three 20-minute periods and the starters took the field for most of the first two, giving way to reserves for the third. All the scoring action, however, was in the first period.

“It’s pretty clear where we are,” head coach Beth Bozman said. “We got better in the second period, but we played really poorly in the first period. You can’t just have good practices and think you’re going to take it to the field, you have to literally take it to the field, and we just didn’t in the first period.”

Duke did a poor job of creating scoring opportunities and did not register many shots on goal (statistics were not kept for the game). The Demon Deacons also controlled the tempo, especially in the first and third periods. The Blue Devils often struggled to string passes together and to move the ball down the field.

“I think our attack players are really dangerous,” Bozman said. “But they were not dangerous at all today. You can’t win a game unless you take shots and challenge the keeper.”

Duke’s counterattack, which was solid last year, was not present. The team seemed to miss graduated forward Kim Van Kirk, who did a great job of covering passing lanes and pressuring the ball last season, Bozman said.

After the game the Blue Devils did not seem upset with their effort.

“I think we were just concentrating on the wrong things,” senior midfielder Johanna Bischof said. “I think we were trying to go for too much and not just taking the shot right away. We’ve been working a lot on passing around the circle and not just taking the shot right away.”

Duke will spend the next week tuning up its season opener against Louisville Saturday in East Lansing at the Champion’s Tournament. The two other teams in the four-team tournament are Delaware and host Michigan State.


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