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Duke field hockey looks to regain its footing against Boston College, Liberty

Senior Jessica Buttinger and the Blue Devils will try to get back on track this weekend against No. 16 Boston College and Liberty.
Senior Jessica Buttinger and the Blue Devils will try to get back on track this weekend against No. 16 Boston College and Liberty.

After a tough pair of road losses last weekend, the Blue Devils will look to regain their footing at home.

No. 11 Duke will face No. 16 Boston College Friday at 6:00 p.m. before taking on Liberty Sunday at 1:00 p.m. at Jack Katz Stadium. Both the Blue Devils and the Eagles intend to bounce back after a string of losses, and the Flames will attempt to stretch their current seven-game winning streak one further.

“This [past] weekend was a huge learning experience for us, and this is going to be a defining weekend,” senior forward Jessica Buttinger said. “Just setting the tone for this week, there is already a different vibe and we are ready to attack things. I think that it’s just going to be motivation for this coming weekend.”

The matchup against Boston College (8-4, 1-2 in the ACC) will be the fourth conference game for Duke (8-3, 1-2) this year. The two teams will vie to move up in the rankings, as they are currently back-to-back in the ACC standings. The Blue Devils sit at No. 4 in the conference after falling to Virginia last Friday and the Eagles rank fifth after dropping a home matchup against Wake Forest.

“For every team in our conference right now it’s a battle, head coach Pam Bustin said. “Boston College is having another great year… so for us it’s just going to be about gutting it out for the full amount of time that it takes. [We need] to really just lock in and grind it out, sticking to our game.”

Boston College is an annual matchup for Duke, and it has proven to be a very worthy opponent--—throughout the past four years, the teams have split their games 2-2. After a 2-1 overtime win last year, the Blue Devils will look to break the back-and-forth trend with a victory for the second year in a row.

“They are very skilled—individually, I know a bunch of them are very good,” junior midfielder Aileen Johnson said. “And they’re scrappy, so you can’t really take them for granted because you never know when they might score.”

Later this weekend, Liberty (8-4) will travel to Durham for a nonconference game, as the Flames look to knock off the Blue Devils and continue their rampage of the Big South. Led by junior forward Sarah Gipe—who has eight goals on the season—Liberty will look to put pressure on the Duke defense.

The Flames have scored 44 total goals this year, more than double the amount of their opponents, who have only netted 19. Junior forward Ashlee Krulock leads the team in points with 19. Redshirt junior goalkeeper Lauren Blazing and the Duke defense will have to buckle down defensively in order to slow down Liberty.

“If we can just lock in to what it is we have to do and do it with authority, we are going to put ourselves in positions to win the game,” Bustin said. “We have to respect their scoring ability, obviously, and they are very resilient in their game plan. We have to be ready to go the distance, however long it takes.”

Fans attending this weekend’s games will have the opportunity to witness the debut of the first Division I athletic venue to use LED stadium lights. The Blue Devils look forward to playing a weekend at home under the lights as they look to bounce back from last weekend’s letdown and regain their footing in the ACC.

“We’re hitting kind of the gritty part of the year…it’s [time to] refocus,” Buttinger said. “It’s one of those where we just stress [that]you can’t judge anything. We just have to stick to our game and take care of what we can, and then see how things fall out.”

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