Coming off of a tiring victory against its arch rival, Duke was able to regroup and put together another win.
Less than 48 hours after defeating No. 1 North Carolina 3-2 in a shootout, No. 9 Duke faced Longwood at Jack Katz Field. Despite battling exhaustion from Friday's contest, the Blue Devils defeated the Lancers 3-1 to notch their sixth victory in the last seven games.
But it wasn't an easy win. The Lancers tied the game at 1-1 on a goal by forward Jessica Diaz in the 50th minute, but Duke defender Brenna Rescigno responded four minutes later, scoring on a corner to put the Blue Devils back in front for good.
“We were only up 1-0 at half time, so [head coach Pam Bustin] really wanted us to execute on corners because we work on them almost every day in practice,” Rescigno said. “She just said everyone do their job—inserter hit the ball out, stick-stopper stop it, hitter just hit it to the post—and that’s all I had to do. That’s all it takes.”
In the first half, Duke (8-2) attacked the cage, outshooting Longwood (3-7) 14-3. Although the Blue Devils had a number of scoring opportunities in the opening 35 minutes, they only found the back of the net once when senior forward Jessica Buttinger beat Lancer goalkeeper Kaye Goulding in the 21st minute.
“I don’t feel like we were playing necessarily poorly, it just wasn’t clean,” Bustin said. “I thought we had control of the game and ball possession for the most part but we just weren’t doing enough to get return, and that becomes frustrating as a game goes on.”
Diaz evened the score for Longwood off a 1-on-1 with the Duke goalie Lauren Blazing. Playing under the hot afternoon sun, fatigue continued to play a role for the Blue Devils.
“We were kind of anticipating the chance that we would have been a little bit slower, not that you want that, but we played a lot of hockey less than 48 hours ago,” Bustin said. “My idea is that you are going to have to still play the game and not rely on the physical aspect as much.”
After Duke took the lead back on Rescigno's goal, the Blue Devils continued to put pressure on the Lancers, with a plethora of corners late in the second half. As her team attacked, senior forward Emmie Le Merchand was tripped up by the goalie and awarded a penalty stroke. Le Marchand, who scored the game-winner Friday against North Carolina, converted the penalty shot for her sixth goal of the season.
“I think when you play such a big game like that, you get so pumped up and so wound up that you just go so hard for absolutely everything,” Le Merchand said. “I felt like I played really well on Friday, and I was really happy with how I performed, so I tried to bring that same attitude today and hopefully from every game on.”
The Blue Devils will have more than 48 hours to prepare for their next contest against California Friday, but after a hard-fought win Sunday Duke knows that there will be no easy games going forward.
“We have to think of each game as the same sort of opposition as [North] Carolina is," Le Marchand said. "The energy and the intensity that we brought there has to be for the rest of the season now."
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