The No. 6 Blue Devils (4-2) came out strong in their first home game of the season Sunday, toppling Drexel (4-2) with a 4-1 effort in the newly renovated Williams Stadium.
But more than anything, Duke's win helped counter a disappointing 4-1 loss to No. 2 Wake Forest (5-0) Saturday in the team's ACC opener.
"We got outshot and outcornered and gave up goals we shouldn't have," head coach Beth Bozman said of her squad's matchup with the Demon Deacons, who will likely rise to No. 1 in the national rankings this week. "We proved we could play with one of the best teams in the country, though."
Coming from the defeat in Winston-Salem, the players were excited to be back at Williams Stadium. They have started their season with a total of five away games.
The first half of Sunday's contest, however, was far from adrenaline-charged. The Blue Devils came out slow, trailing by a goal at halftime.
With her team down heading into the locker room, Bozman instilled a sense of urgency into the sluggish Blue Devils. She insisted that her players needed to make things happen in the second half, pointing out "reality was knocking on the door," Bozman said.
Her speech must have made an impression because after the Duke players stepped back onto the field, it was clear they were on a mission.
"We had a do-or-die mentality," sophomore midfielder Casey Beyel said.
"We know we're capable of great things," senior captain Laura Suchoski said.
And the Duke players proved it.
Just 19 seconds into the second half, senior Marian Dickinson scored the Blue Devils' first goal to tie the match. From there, Duke continued to gain momentum. Senior Ashley Pultorak was next to score, tipping the ball in off a pass from the left side.
Beyel then scored the next two goals, cementing the victory.
Not only did Duke light up the scoreboard in the second half, but the Blue Devils opened up passing options, and the midfielders were able to get back on defense quicker.
The positive team dynamics of the young team were also evident.
"I wouldn't trade these freshmen for anything," Suchoski said of the talented class.
And in light of Saturday's game, the win Sunday was even sweeter for the Blue Devils.
"We had a score to settle," Beyel said.
With their confidence now boosted, the Blue Devils are looking forward to a string of home games after a long stint on the road.
They take on Ohio State next Saturday with a rivalry matchup with North Carolina looming the following weekend.
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