Despite being ranked tenth in the country last season, Duke still missed the NCAA Tournament—its losing record disqualified the team from postseason play.
No. 17 Duke (8-8) stood under .500 again before this weekend, needing two wins to put it back in contention for the playoffs.
It got just those Friday and Saturday, beating William & Mary 1-0 and No. 19 Old Dominion 4-3 in a weekend road swing.
“We needed to win, and we got them,” head coach Beth Bozman said. “These wins are critical in relation to the tournament.”
Duke’s win over William & Mary (3-10) Friday came courtesy of a goal by freshman Emmie Le Marchand. Duke dominated the Tribe for much of the game and allowed no shots in the first half, however Bozman said she felt the team “came out flat.”
This apparently was not the case during the first half against the Lady Monarchs, as the Blue Devils stormed out to a 3-0 lead with all three goals scored by freshmen players—Brenna Rescigno had two, and Le Marchand scored her seventh of the season.
Old Dominion (7-9), however, bounced back in the second half, tying the game at 3-3 and forcing overtime. Sophomore Mary Nielsen stepped up 42 seconds into overtime to put the winning shot in the cage, avenging a loss at home to the Lady Monarchs earlier this season.
“We knew they were capable,” Bozman said, referring to the five goals Old Dominion scored against No. 2 Maryland on Friday. “Their record doesn’t really indicate their talent.… We were fortunate we got possession in overtime and converted.”
This game was different than many of Duke’s previous games, as the Blue Devils had fewer shots and penalty corners than their opponents.
“We made some defensive mistakes,” Bozman said. “We’re going to throw out the video and correct them.”
The Blue Devils’ finishing, a problem throughout the season, improved this weekend. This comes at the best possible time: Duke’s key stretch to end the season.
“Every game matters… every win matters,” Bozman said. “The first half of this game is a very good indication of what we can do…. It’s great that we are coming together at the right time.”
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