The Blue Devils had yet to win in overtime this season. Junior defender Paula Heimbach had yet to score a goal in a Duke uniform.
Friday, both those things changed.
No. 24 Duke (7-9) beat California (5-10) 2-1 in overtime at Jack Katz Stadium. Nine minutes into overtime, Heimbach scored to propel the Blue Devils past the Golden Bears.
“I feel great,” Heimbach said. “It’s my first goal ever, so I’m so excited it happened in overtime. I saw the ball there, and I just went for it.”
Duke and California were evenly matched throughout the first half. The Golden Bears held an 8-7 shot advantage against the Blue Devils, while Duke sophomore goalie Lauren Blazing and California sophomore goalie Courtney Hendrickson each made four saves. Duke, however, had only three penalty corners while California had eight, including five back-to-back. On the fifth, California sophomore midfielder Caroline Struijk converted to give the Golden Bears a 1-0 lead, with assists from senior midfielder Kendra Bills and junior midfielder Shannon Elmitt.
At the close of the second half, Blue Devil junior forward Emmie Le Marchand scored on a penalty corner, with assists from junior midfielder Grace Christus and senior defender Abby Hassinger. This was Le Marchand’s team-leading 11th goal of the season, and it was one of her most important, as it shifted the flow in Duke’s favor going into the second half.
Statistically, it appeared as though California dominated Duke offensively in the second half—the Golden Bears led the Blue Devils in shots, 8-3, corners, 5-2, and saves, 4-1. But, as Duke head coach Pam Bustin pointed out, the box scores have no way of measuring momentum.
“I think the momentum started two-thirds of the way through the second half,” Bustin said. “It forced Cal to call a time out, and it really gave us a chance to identify that we had them, and the energy just spread. I think from that point on, whether we scored in regulation or if we were going to have to do it in overtime, that we had the game in our hands.”
In overtime, the Blue Devils outshot California 5-0. In the 79th minute, Heimbach pounded a rebound off Hendrickson into the far post of the goal, leading Duke to victory.
“I think Paula just wanted to go home,” Bustin said. “But it was a beautiful goal. She swept it wonderfully. It was right on point. She was wide open and did the right thing.”
The Blue Devil victory was not pretty, but it was important. Duke is winless against ACC opponents and faces No. 5 Virginia at home next Saturday. The win against the Golden Bears, however, showed the Blue Devils’ persistence in a tight match.
“I think this was a tough game for us,” Bustin said. “I think we’re still coming out of some tough losses over the last few weeks that we’re still learning from.... In terms of toughness—mentally and physically—I’m really proud of what we did tonight. It’s good to face Virginia with a win on your back. It’s going to be a heck of a battle next weekend, there’s no doubt about it, but I think with a week of building on this energy, we have a fair shot.”
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