Friday night’s game proved to be a bittersweet homecoming for Duke head coach Pam Bustin, and Sunday’s game provided few pick-me-ups.
Louisville emerged victorious against Duke 2-1 Friday night at Trager Stadium in Louisville, Ky. The Blue Devils then seemed to bounce back at Indiana but three second half goals from the Hoosiers quickly changed the tune of the game and the weekend.
Against Indiana, the Blue Devils jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead off of goals from senior Jessica Buttinger and Heather Morris. Going into halftime, the game seemed to be all but decided.
“We came out strong and had our front ready to attack today,” Bustin said. “Coming off a rough loss on Friday, I thought we regrouped pretty well. We had a good practice Saturday.... With the two goal-lead at halftime, I felt that second half we were going to be able continue what we had done.”
But the Hoosiers had different plans.
Indiana cut the lead in half 12 minutes into the second period, as Taylor Pearson netted her first goal of the season. Just three minutes later, Audra Heilman added the equalizer, leading up to Sydney Supica’s go-ahead score in the 54th minute. In just seven minutes, Indiana had completed the comeback and left a shell-shocked Duke squad reeling from its first losing streak of the season.
“Of course we knew Indiana was going to come out stronger,” Bustin said. “I was a little disappointed how we handled that.”
The first defeat of the weekend tarnished the return trip to Louisville for Bustin, who served as the head coach of the Cardinals from 1998 until taking the helm at Duke in 2010.
“It was exciting to be there with Duke and play in that great environment. I think it was exciting for [Louisville] as their first year in the ACC to have Duke there,” Bustin said. “It was fun. It was a great environment, a good night for a game.”
The No. 12 Cardinals handed No. 4 Duke its first loss on the road and maintained their unblemished home record. In just its fourth ACC contest since joining the conference this season, Louisville (9-2, 3-1 in the ACC) has already demonstrated that it is a team to be reckoned with.
In the first conference meeting between the two teams, Duke (8-2, 1-2 in the ACC) struggled to make an impact both offensively and defensively in the first half. The Blue Devils entered the game with an edge against the Cardinals 7-2 all-time, but Louisville got off to a fast start Friday. Sophomore Erin McCrudden and junior Elisa Garica each scored in the first half on penalty corners.
“We fell off a little bit in the first half and we gave Louisville five minutes that they capitalized on,” Bustin said. “That’s extremely frustrating and that’s tough on the road to kind of dig yourself out of that hole.”
The Blue Devils regrouped at halftime and came out strong in the second half, with a score in the 48th minute by senior Martine Chichizola—her third of the season—seeming to change the momentum of the game. But senior Jessica Buttinger—who leads Duke with 12 points this season— was unable to convert on a penalty corner late in the 66th minute. Freshman Ashley Kristen attempted to even the score with a late shot as well, but was denied by Louisville goalie Sydney King.
“The second half, I thought we did a great job in changing our energy and changing mentality and playing together as a team,” Bustin said. “We had some wonderful chances and unfortunately it didn’t go for us last night.”
The Blue Devils will spend the week looking to correct the mistakes made this past weekend before playing host to ACC foe Boston College Friday at 6 p.m.
“We’re still learning, there are changes that we have to make. No matter what the personnel is on the field, we’ve got to come out ready to play and come out with a lot of intensity and energy,” Bustin said.
—Nick Martin contributed to this article.
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