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Duke field hockey splits contests against ranked foes

After a promising, thrilling win Friday against Richmond, Duke dropped Sunday’s match to Old Dominion to remain below .500 for the season.

The No. 17 Blue Devils (3-5) won a tight game 2-1 against the No. 25 Spiders (4-3) before falling 3-1 against the No. 8 Monarchs (4-3) at Jack Katz Stadium. Duke opened up the scoring against Richmond in the 11th minute, as redshirt junior Devon Gagliardi scored her third goal of the season with an assist from senior Mary Nielson. Richmond freshman Taylor Dietrick tied the game seven minutes later, until Blue Devil junior Emmie Le Marchand converted on a penalty corner in the 48th minute.

“I was really proud of our game against Richmond because the team controlled their performance,” head coach Pam Bustin said. “As a coach, I was just able to do the Xs and Os, and they brought the rest of it. I didn’t have to spark them, and that was probably one of the first matches where I didn’t have to do that.”

Old Dominion brought a new challenge for Duke, as the Blue Devils were up against legendary field hockey coach Beth Anders. Anders, the winningest coach in Division I field hockey history, is in her 30th and final season for the Monarchs. Her influence in the field hockey world has reached far, especially for Bustin.

“I played for Beth for two years, and I have great respect for her and what she’s done for both Old Dominion and USA field hockey,” Bustin said. “Honestly, if it weren’t for Beth, I’m not sure that I would be in the coaching profession.”

The Blue Devils’ “spark” was missing during the first half against Old Dominion, as Duke was outnumbered 6-2 in shots and 4-2 in penalty corners. The Monarchs jumped to a 2-0 lead before halftime on goals by freshman Celine Marquet in the 13th minute and sophomore Rosario Villagra in the 26th. Old Dominion added to its lead in the 45th minute with a goal by redshirt sophomore Katie Fuhrman.

Duke, however, appeared to be energized in the second half, despite senior Chelsea Amsley and junior Grace Christus sustaining injuries, and Christus leaving the game in the 70th minute. The Blue Devils kept up with the Monarchs in shots, 9-8, and penalty corners, 3-2, though they were still outpaced in both categories. Le Marchand added her fourth goal of the season on a penalty stroke in the 50th minute.

“In the second half, I think we dictated the play a little more rather than letting them dictate it,” Gagliardi said. “We came out and pressured them really hard, so I think that made the difference.”

The Blue Devils, however, suffered from their slow first half, and were unable to take advantage of offensive opportunities in key moments.

“I thought we stayed on their end of the defense, but we didn’t get enough shots, we didn’t get enough scoring opportunities, and we didn’t capitalize,” Bustin said. “It’s unfortunate the score was what it was, but we have to get better at taking care of our offensive opportunities. We’re good defensively but we have to be more determined to finish on the scoring end.”

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