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Duke field hockey takes perfect record on the road against Old Dominion, Wake Forest

Junior goalkeeper Lauren Blazing will look to slow down Old Dominion and Wake Forest this weekend.
Junior goalkeeper Lauren Blazing will look to slow down Old Dominion and Wake Forest this weekend.

Off to their best start in the last seven seasons, the fourth-ranked Blue Devils will look to add to their perfect record this weekend.

After posting victories against then-No. 10 UMass and then-No. 7 Princeton through its first four games, Duke will hit the road this weekend to take on Old Dominion Friday at 3 p.m. before facing ACC-rival Wake Forest Sunday at 1 p.m..

With their long-term sights set on getting back to the national championship game, the team is focusing on making the minor adjustments needed to elevate their game on a daily basis.

“Long-term goals really depend on what our short-term goals are,” head coach Pam Bustin said. “Obviously, every year our long term goals are to vie for a national championship and put ourselves in a position to be at the top of our conference, so that remains the same, but every year it’s a different way of getting there.”

The seven new additions to the squad have played a vital role in the team’s initial success, with freshman Ainsley Gill contributing two goals in the team’s four victories, and Alexa Mackintire scoring the game-winning goal in the team’s thrilling overtime victory against Michigan State.

Another key factor in the Blue Devils’ commanding start to the season has been the team’s defensive prowess, with goalie Lauren Blazing at the helm. The redshirt junior has played all four games in goal, posting a 0.889 saves percentage and a 0.47 goals-against percentage, which rank fourth and second-best in the country, respectively.

Despite a weekend loss to then-No. 11 Wake Forest (3-1), Old Dominion (1-3) poses a real threat, as it holds a 24-14 advantage against the Blue Devils in their previous encounters. Duke squeaked past the Lady Monarchs last season, winning 1-0 against then-No. 15 Old Dominion.

The Lady Monarch attack is spearheaded by sophomore midfielder Megan Byas—who was named Big East Offensive Player of the Week—and goalie Megan Hept. Hept has recorded 19 saves on the year.

Taking down the No. 10 Demon Deacons will be no easy feat either, as they have won three-straight contests, highlighted by a 5-4 overtime triumph against Old Dominion. Wake Forest features 2013 All-ACC and NFHCA All-American Anna Kozniuk, who leads the team with four goals on the season.

“Both [Old Dominion and Wake Forest] have great scoring prowess and are hard working teams,” Bustin said. “For us, it’s really just to make sure we keep our work rate high and we keep our awareness sharp when we play.”

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