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Duke field hockey bounces back against No. 15 Old Dominion

<p>The Blue Devils will need to rely on guidance from upperclassmen like senior Caroline Andretta to hold off two talented teams from the Northeast.</p>

The Blue Devils will need to rely on guidance from upperclassmen like senior Caroline Andretta to hold off two talented teams from the Northeast.

Coming off a tough loss Friday at No. 4 Virginia, the Blue Devils looked to bounce back Sunday afternoon against Old Dominion. 

And bounce back they did.

No. 7 Duke came from behind to defeat No. 15 Old Dominion 3-1 Sunday afternoon at Jack Katz Stadium. The Monarchs came out swinging, scoring the first goal of the game on their first shot less than four minutes in. It was a familiar situation for the Blue Devils—who fell behind quickly against the Cavaliers as well—but this time they were able to regroup and score three unanswered goals to pull off the win at home.

“From the Virginia game, we’ve learned that we’ve got to come out ready to attack the game but also defend our game,” Duke head coach Pam Bustin said. “When Old Dominion took it to us in the first couple minutes, that was like the ‘okay, hang on’ moment and I was so proud of how the team regrouped and what they brought out and what they recognized today. Credit to Old Dominion for coming out hard against us, but credit to the Duke team for making the change earlier and then never looking back.”

Old Dominion’s first goal came off a tip-in shot by redshirt senior Caitlin Walsh and was assisted by a pass across the circle from graduate student Alex Iqbal. But unlike the Virginia game—when the Cavaliers tacked on three more goals after the initial strike—that would be the last goal scored against Duke (5-3). The Blue Devil defense tightened up and put the clamps down on the Monarch offense, thanks to an organized team defense and a pair of big saves by redshirt senior goalkeeper Lauren Blazing.

Even with the defensive game plan in mind, Duke still met a tough challenge in Old Dominion’s aggressive offensive. The Monarchs (5-2) pushed the pace each possession, looking to score within the circle. Old Dominion had another opportunity early on to add to its lead, setting up a corner attempt in the 25th minute to give senior Sarah Breen a good look at the goal, only for her to be denied by a kick save from Blazing.

“We expect every team to be pushing it toward our goal so we wanted to come out today and really put our game plan on them,” Blazing said. “We did a really good job of doing that. We forced them to the space where we wanted them and we had a lot of good possession with the ball.”

Duke came back with a goal in the 15th minute to respond to the early goal by the Monarchs. The tying score came from a shot in front of the cage by junior Heather Morris, off a cross from sophomore Ashley Kristen. Kristen sprinted down the right side of the field and went between the legs of an Old Dominion defender before passing it off to Morris for her fifth goal this season.

Just six minutes later, the Blue Devils scored again off a goal from freshman Rose Tynan. Tynan corralled a ball from teammate Aileen Johnson and made a move around Monarch goalkeeper Kealsie Robles for the reverse score, giving Duke a 2-1 advantage and Tynan her third goal of the year.

Old Dominion dialed up the defensive pressure after surrendering its lead by pushing its defenders up into the opposing backfield, and Duke remained on the offensive and continued to push the ball forward. Halftime approached with neither team scoring another goal after lots of back-and-forth, up-the-field action.

Both teams came out in the second half aggressive on offense, but they were met with big defensive stops. The offenses combined for 12 shots in the final 35 minutes, yet only managed one goal as the goalkeepers and defenders traded plays to prevent either team from reaching the back of the cage.

Finally, the Blue Devils scored one last goal with 6:15 remaining on the clock. Freshman Caroline Andretta wove in and out of traffic in front of the Old Dominion circle to score an unassisted goal, the first goal of her career. Andretta’s late goal effectively put the game away, as Duke rode the momentum the rest of the way.

In the closing moments of the game, the Monarchs had three more shots on goal that either sailed wide or were blocked by Duke defenders. Bustin commended the team for how it handled itself in the victory, and said she did not need to say much for the team to rebound and begin playing Duke field hockey—the players themselves were able to motivate each other to not let the game get away from them.

“I honestly didn’t have to tell the team anything,” Bustin said. “I saw the looks on their faces after the first goal. They were like, ‘It could go one of two ways,’ and it went towards ‘Heck no, we have to get back on this. They did it as a group and they did it as a team.”

The Blue Devils will look to win consecutive games this week when they return to the field against Delaware at Jack Katz Stadium Friday at 6 p.m.

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