Duke’s scoring woes are a thing of the past.
After tallying three goals in their first two games against Louisville and Michigan State, the Blue Devils’ (3-1) offense exploded against New Hampshire (0-2) and Towson (0-3) Saturday and Sunday in Durham. The Duke offense combined for 23 goals, winning 11-0 and 12-0, respectively. Although the level of competition the Blue Devils contended with this weekend was significantly lower than that which they faced in the season openers, the two big wins were a welcome relief.
“It feels good,” said Nicole Dudek, who scored a hat trick against New Hampshire and put home two goals and assisted another against Towson. “This is definitely what we needed after a loss. We’re not really used to losing, after the good season we had last year.”
Duke exerted tremendous offensive pressure against both opponents, and the majority of both games were played in the visitors’ defensive zones. New Hampshire only mustered three shots in its game against the Blue Devils, and Towson managed a single shot on goal.
“We didn’t really have a choice,” senior Gracie Sorbello said of her team’s pressure against Towson. “They put their whole team inside the circle. They let us do whatever we wanted outside the circle, so our only choice was to go for it and attack them.”
Duke capitalized on its scoring opportunities, something it failed to do in its first two games, head coach Beth Bozman said.
“We just took care of the things we talked about at Michigan State, and just executed this weekend,” Bozman said.
In the latter stages of the first half against Towson, the Blue Devils experienced their only offensive lull. Up 4-0, Duke suffered a 30-minute scoring drought, and during the halftime break, Bozman urged her players to not repeat the mistakes they had made the previous weekend.
“We just talked about getting back into our passing game,” Bozman said. “We were trying to force some things and we weren’t playing our game, which is easy to do when you’re winning by that much.”
Dudek agreed that her team had deviated from its original game plan against Towson.
“We were trying to force balls instead of taking our time to move around and waiting for a space to open up,” Dudek said. “We just needed to be patient.”
The Blue Devils displayed ideal focus against New Hampshire. Armed with a potent passing attack, Duke scored early and often. Junior Katie Grant put together a prodigious offensive display—she scored four goals in the contest.
“I just felt as if offensively we were really making the most of our opportunities,” Grant said. “I felt as if I didn’t get many touches on the ball, but when I did, I made something out of it.”
The Blue Devils’ next game is Saturday at Wake Forest, which defeated Duke three times in 2003, including both the ACC and NCAA Championship games.
“It’s going to be tough, but I think that we’ve been preparing really hard in practice,” Dudek said. “We went really hard for five days. I think we’ll be ready.”
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