Despite overcoming a two-goal deficit in the second half, a late Northwestern goal shut the door on any chance of a Duke comeback.
Coming off of an impressive 1-0 win against No. 15 Old Dominion, No. 9 Duke fell short against the No. 13 Wildcats, losing 3-2 at Jack Katz Stadium Friday night.
“I thought we made some great adjustments in the second half, but time is not on our side when we wait until the second half to play," head coach Pam Bustin said. "They are a good team and we had a great run with them, I just wish we had started a little earlier."
Northwestern senior midfielder Tara Puffenberger scored both of her team’s first-half goals, but even though Wildcats had the advantage going into the second half, a pair of Blue Devil goals would tie the game at two.
Although Duke had managed to even the score, the Blue Devils could not capitalize on the momentum, failing to find the back of the cage the rest of the game. With just 7:48 to play in the game, Northwestern’s Carolin Troncelliti scored the go-ahead goal on her only shot of the game.
Duke (5-2) began the game allowing an uncharacteristic rebound goal in the 10th minute, when redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Lauren Blazing blocked a Wildcat shot, but had it returned from 12 yards out by Puffenberger.
The Blue Devils only registered one first-half shot, giving up eleven to Northwestern (8-1). The Wildcats also had seven first-half penalty corner shots, one of which would lead to a Northwestern goal in the 22nd minute, making the score 2-0.
“I think we got caught up in the aggressive and physical play in the first half which put us behind,” said Bustin.
Duke emerged from the locker room on the offensive, when sophomore midfielder Aileen Johnson rebounded a missed shot and slid it past the Northwestern goalie Maddy Carpenter for the Blue Devils’ first goal of the game—her first of the season.
“It was exiting [to score my first goal] because it was at a point in the game where we really needed [a score],” said Johnson. “The pressure was really high. I saw the ball come across and bounce, and I just put it in.”
Both defenses remained strong for the next 20 minutes, with neither team able to gain an advantage. But just four minutes later, Duke freshman Heather Morris found the cage, neutralizing the Northwestern lead and scoring her team-high fifth goal of the season.
With the game tied, the Blue Devils could not convert on their shots, even though they had two back-to-back penalty corner shots in the 62nd minute. Instead, it was Northwestern who scored the game’s final goal when Troncelliti tapped the ball past Blazing.
Although Duke was able to get back into the game, poor first-half play hindered the Blue Devil’s chances at winning the game.
“If you are going to come out with energy we need to set the play first instead of reacting to it,” Bustin said.
Even though the loss has set Duke back, Johnson is optimistic about moving forward in the season and entering conference play.
“We are having a positive season, each game we are getting better and better. We got to play Northwestern now and we are going to learn from it moving forward.”
After loosing its second game of the season, Duke will remain at home to take on Radford Sunday at 1 p.m. Next Friday the Blue Devils will travel to Chapel Hill to take on No. 1 North Carolina.
“This is a good team, and they have had their eyes open,” said Bustin. “This is a good lesson for when we get into conference play. We have to step it up every game from the first whistle.”
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