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Duke field hockey falls to Virginia to break up perfect start

Despite a late goal from Heather Morris, the Blue Devils could not come back from a two-goal deficit and fell at home to No. 10 Virginia.
Despite a late goal from Heather Morris, the Blue Devils could not come back from a two-goal deficit and fell at home to No. 10 Virginia.

After the best start to their season since 1978, the Blue Devils will now have to bounce back after their first loss of the season.

No. 3 Duke fell to No. 10 Virginia 2-1 in a nail-biting upset Friday at Williams Field at Jack Katz Stadium. After a scoreless first half, the Cavaliers were able to find the back of net with 22 minutes left to play. Roughly 10 minutes later, junior defender Amanda Kim was issued a yellow card, shorting the team one player. This paved the way for the second Virginia goal on the night which came just moments after the ejection. Duke, with a huge offensive press in the end, was only able to put in one goal with five minutes left.

“Any loss, you learn from it,” head coach Pam Bustin said. “There are things that we have got to address and be better at. Now that we lost, it’s loud. It’s loud and maybe they’ll hear it better.”

One of those things seemed to be an ability to handle a hard press in the backfield from the opponents. The Cavaliers (6-2, 2-0)—who gained their fifth straight win— were constantly pushing freshman Tara Vittese and sophomore Caleigh Foust into the Blue Devil’s defensive third. The pressure from the duo seemed to really disrupt the possessions Duke had.

Vittese had a vital role in Friday’s game beyond pressure. The Cherry Hill, N.J. native dribbled into the arc from six yards out and netted the first Cavalier goal on the night. She also assisted the second goal, which came from senior Lucy Hyams. This was Vitesse’s sixth goal and ninth assist for the season.

“[Vittese] is super talented. She has got a great stick,” Bustin said. “If she starts playing with all the moves, then, yeah. You’re going to get wrong footed, and she caught us a couple of times tonight.”

Duke (6-1, 1-1) started to pick up the intensity in the final minutes of the game. The Blue Devils had four penalty corners on the night, and Kim was able to capitalize one of these chances. The junior tipped a shot from Heather Morris and found Duke’s goal with only five minutes left.

As the time on the clock dwindled the Blue Devils started to create more chances.

“As soon as we got that first goal, that definitely propelled us,” senior Jessica Buttinger said. “When we got that urgency, it was almost this relaxed—we started playing our game. Unfortunately, we ran out of time.”

Buttinger was a driving force in the urgency. The forward earned the fourth corner with 2:30 left on the clock. The Ontario native stepped up the pressure and recorded three shots on the night. In the last minutes, Buttinger had a breakaway and a one-on-one with the keeper. She tried a reverse shot to tie the game, but was blocked by Virginia goalie Jenny Johnstone, who had four saves Friday.

In the first half of play, possession was inconsistent for both squads. There was a constant back and forth with few real opportunities for either team. However, BLue Devil goalkeeper Lauren Blazing shut down the opportunities that Virginia had. Blazing recorded two saves in the first half, and another two in the second half. Unfortunately, the ball was put past the redshirt junior twice in the second half.

“Any time you get scored on it’s just a learning experience. You never want to let the same goal happen twice, “ Blazing said. “It’ll definitely push me for the rest of the season.”

That push will be needed from all of the Blue Devils this weekend when they travel to Williamsburg, Va. Sunday to take on William & Mary (1-6) at Bush Field at 1:00 p.m.

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