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Duke slides past Big Ten duo in Illinois

Neither the game against No. 19 Penn State or unranked Northwestern was a big win for the Duke field hockey team. The Blue Devils handled both squads, 4-1 and 5-1, respectively. If Duke had not come out on top of either squad, however, it would have been a big loss, head coach Beth Bozman said.

With the pair of wins in Evanston, Ill., this weekend, No. 3 Duke improved its record to 14-3, concluding a stretch of five road games, 4-1.

Against Penn State (9-8), sophomore Amy Stopford gave Duke an early 1-0 lead about nine minutes into the game. The goal came off of a penalty corner and senior Johanna Bischof collected an assist. The Blue Devils increased their lead on a second penalty corner with less than two minutes left in the half. Gracie Sorbello drove the ball past Penn State’s goalie for her 11th score of the season. Bischof registered another assist on the play and now leads the NCAA with 19.

Despite its lead, Bozman thought her team was “sluggish” in the first half, but that all changed in the second half.

Thirteen minutes into the half, Nicole Dudek netted an unassisted goal and now leads the Blue Devils with 17 goals. The junior also set up Duke’s final scoring opportunity, passing the ball to an open Lindsay Shaw at the far post, who slung the ball between the pipes.

In the net, junior Christy Morgan recorded six saves. Penn State’s only goal came on a penalty shot with about seven minutes left in regulation.

“Penn State was probably the more important of the two games,” Bozman said. “However, both were important because they are Big Ten teams.”

Against Northwestern (7-10) Sunday, the Blue Devils once again jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, before the Wildcats could get on the board.

Duke piled on two additional goals, increasing the score to 5-1. Bischof scored on a penalty shot, which made her 4-for-4 on the year. Cara-Lynn Lopresti led the team with two goals and an assist. Katie Grant and Dudek also scored for the team.

In both games, the Duke emphasized its own play, rather than of the competition.

“We have been focused on fine-tuning our play,” Bozman said. “We’re working on quicker transitions and stopping teams at our defensive end. We’re working on our ball movement.”

Duke took an early lead in both games, another recent focus of the team, Bozman said.

The Blue Devils have the week to prepare for an ACC showdown with No. 16 Virginia, which is the final regular season contest for the squad. The Cavaliers hung tough with No. 1 Wake Forest, losing 3-2 yesterday.

“Virginia has been coming on strong,” Bozman said. “We’re going to look at their strengths, but for the most part, just focus on our game because that’s how we play well.”


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