The Blue Devils picked up two much-needed wins this weekend against top-20 teams, defeating Boston College 4-2 Friday and overcame Boston University 1-0 Sunday.
The victories were the first after a tough three-game losing streak against some of the nation’s top contenders. The No. 9 Blue Devils (7-4, 2-1 in the ACC) lost by one goal to Penn State, Old Dominion and North Carolina, all of which were ranked in the top-10 at the time. The Old Dominion and North Carolina games even went into double overtime.
“We knew that this was going to be an extremely challenging weekend for us,” head coach Pam Bustin said. “This team has been fighting through some close, competitive games. I thought we did a great job of breaking out and taking control of [the Boston College] match early.”
Duke was ready to break its dry spell, and conference rival No. 8 Boston College (7-4, 1-2) would help it do just that. The Blue Devils quickly took control of the offense, and junior Mary Nielson was able to capitalize in the eighth minute to gain an early lead. Junior Devon Gagliardi followed quickly with another goal, which put Duke up by two going into halftime.
Sophomore Emmie Le Marchand scored within five minutes of returning to the field in the second half, earning her eighth goal of the season and cementing the team’s lead, 3-0. The Eagles recorded a goal from Courtney Tavener off a penalty corner, but the Blue Devils were quick to answer when sophomore McKay Ross scored her first career goal.
“[The past three games] were tough losses as a matter of results, but it was some great hockey,” Bustin said. “I think the team was really excited to have another opportunity to play another good team and play great hockey but also get the results. That’s exactly what they went out and did on Friday.”
Sunday’s game against No. 18 Boston University (7-5) was more frustrating for the Blue Devils. The team led in both shots, 12-1, and penalty corners, 7-0, through regulation time, but was forced to enter overtime for the fifth time this year to clinch the win.
“Boston University played a very defensive game and they played it very well,” Bustin said. “They really made it difficult for us to generate any clean scoring opportunities…. But we just kept persisting, we kept our cool and we kept our poise. We knew that when the opportunity came we were going to capitalize.”
This golden opportunity came after a penalty corner. Junior Devon Gagliardi regained possession, split the defense, and made a pass to senior Tara Jennings. Jennings’ shot ended the game little over three minutes into overtime.
“Tara really wanted it,” Bustin said. “I could see from her face that she really wanted to end the game. She took a great shot as the goalkeeper was coming at her to end it.”
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