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Duke field hockey cruises past Temple to close out perfect weekend

Freshman Alexa Mackintire found the back of the net in the first half of Sunday's 3-0 victory against Temple.
Freshman Alexa Mackintire found the back of the net in the first half of Sunday's 3-0 victory against Temple.

Friday against top-10 foe Princeton, the Blue Devils had to grind their way to a tough 1-0 win in their home opener after a clutch second-half goal.

Their second game at home was not as dramatic.

No. 4 Duke crushed Temple 3-0 Sunday afternoon at Williams Field at Jack Katz Stadium. The Blue Devils asserted themselves from the outset, pushing the tempo led by forwards Heather Morris and Jessica Buttinger to the tune of 15 first-half shots and four penalty corners.

Duke’s aggressiveness culminated in two first-half goals from freshmen Ashley Kristen and Alexa Mackintire and carried into the second half, when Buttinger got on the board to extend the Blue Devil advantage. Duke’s 15-3 shots advantage set the tone for the game and the Blue Devils cruised to the finish line to hand the Owls (3-1) their first loss of the season.

“Our goal was to continue the intensity of our attack and [attack] as a team with numbers,” head coach Pam Bustin said. “In the first half, we were able to sustain that. After scoring a couple of goals, we fell off it a little bit, but this was a great opportunity to learn how to handle playing with a big lead in the second half.”

Despite plenty of opportunities, Duke (4-0) was not able to get on the board for more than 18 minutes. Temple goalie Lizzy Millen made up for her defense's errors at the start of the game but was finally beaten in the 19th minute. All-ACC midfielder Aileen Johnson set up Kristen with a nice pass that the freshman converted into the Blue Devils' first goal of the contest.

Duke’s insistence on pushing forward was a major focus this weekend against teams with experienced goalies who proved tough to score against.

“Both teams we played this weekend had great goalkeeping, so we prepared for that and wanted to do better on our attack penalty corners,” Bustin said. “I thought our execution was good today. We were able to put the ball in in different ways.”

Almost 11 minutes after the Blue Devils’ first breakthrough, they struck again.

Duke’s second goal was also assisted, with sophomore Morris finding Mackintire—the hero in the Blue Devils’ season-opening overtime victory at Michigan State—to set up the second tally of the game.

Kristen, Mackintire and the other five freshmen on Duke’s roster have had no problem getting comfortable with their new teammates. And although the Blue Devils are still adjusting to life without the eight contributors they lost this offseason, the new-look squad has not missed a beat through four games.

“There [are] really no classes on this team,” Buttinger said. “Everyone has worked so hard and our strength at Duke is definitely the depth that we have. [The freshman have] just been amazing and [are] meshing right away on the field—it feels really good out there with them.”

The Blue Devil onslaught of the Owl defense did not stop after intermission, as Buttinger added a third score on a beautiful touch after freshman midfielder Alyssa Chillano sent the ball into the box with 24 minutes left in the game.

“Whenever certain players are hitting it into the circle, all I know is to get my stick on the ground and try to get a touch on it, and that’s what happened,” Buttinger said.

After falling behind three goals, the dangerous Temple offense that scored 12 goals in its first three games took advantage of a lull in Duke’s energy level by creating eight shot-opportunities in the second half.

But Blue Devil goalie Lauren Blazing was equal to the task, making five saves down the stretch to preserve the shutout.

Although Duke was able to keep the Owls off the scoreboard and controlled much of the game, Buttinger and the other Blue Devils would like to see their team keep its intensity level high for a full 70 minutes in its two games next weekend at Old Dominion and Wake Forest.

“We have to keep sharpening up every game,” Buttinger said. “Our second half wasn’t as sharp as our first, and that’s something that we realize. Other teams aren’t going to let us slide in the second half, so we have to be conscious of that.”

But Bustin knows that worrying about how to handle a big lead against a talented team this early in the season is a good problem to have.

“At the end of the day, I’m really happy with our grit,” Bustin said. “We’ll get back to work and work on how we’re going to have the control to sustain our attack even when we are a couple of goals ahead.”

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