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Offense erupts as Duke field hockey downs William & Mary

<p>Junior Heather Morris posted a hat trick as the Blue Devils exploded for six goals Sunday against William &amp; Mary in a bounce-back performance.</p>

Junior Heather Morris posted a hat trick as the Blue Devils exploded for six goals Sunday against William & Mary in a bounce-back performance.

Two days after the offense struggled to find its footing against No. 12 Wake Forest, the Blue Devils were firing on all cylinders Sunday afternoon.

No. 4 Duke bounced back from Friday’s loss to the Demon Deacons with a 6-2 win against William & Mary at Jack Katz Stadium. The Blue Devils displayed a smooth offensive performance throughout the game, scoring two goals in the first half and adding on four more in the second. Junior forward Heather Morris fueled the offense with a hat trick, including the key score in the first half to re-establish Duke’s lead soon after the Tribe evened the score.

“The mindset was basically just get a good win today,” Morris said. “After Friday, we just wanted to come out really solid and show everybody that [losing] is not going to happen again and we can take it to a team.”

Duke (4-2) came out strong, getting ahead early when junior Robin Blazing slid in at the back post and tallied the first goal of the match in the third minute on an assist from sophomore Ashley Kristen.

After struggling at first, William & Mary (3-3) gradually found its rhythm and started to fight back. Senior Pippin Saunders stormed into the Blue Devils’ circle and tied the score at 1-1 in the 19th minute, capitalizing on a momentary lapse by the Duke defense.

“I thought they took advantage of moments when maybe we were just a bit wrong-footed,” Duke head coach Pam Bustin said. “But I thought Duke did a good job organizing and reorganizing and finding a way to get the structure back in the backfield.”

The Blue Devils did just that. After giving the Demon Deacons seven penalty corners in Friday’s 2-1 loss, they allowed zero in the first half Sunday and limited the visitors to just three shots on goal. In the meantime, Duke continued to apply pressure with its offense, compiling nine shots before halftime. The effort paid off when Kristen once again created a scoring chance from the back post and Morris converted the shot to regain the lead.

“I think we just wanted to try and connect a little bit more and pass stick to stick,” Morris said, “Ashley actually gave me a great pass to score the goal, set me up perfectly, and I think we did a really good job just going around them and connecting.”

The Tribe retaliated to open the second half, creating several penalty corners to threaten the goal guarded by redshirt senior Lauren Blazing. But the Blue Devils did not stop their pace offensively.

Morris stayed hot in the second half and scored two more goals to complete her hat trick, with the help of Kristen and captain Amanda Kim on her last score. Kristen finished the game with a career-high three assists, giving her a team-high eight on the season. Freshman Rose Tynan tagged on two more goals in the final minutes of the game—the first of the Auckland, New Zealand, native’s  Blue Devil career—putting the nail in the coffin for the Tribe.

“I think today’s second half performance on the attack side of things is exactly what we’ve been waiting for and working for,” Bustin said. “The rhythm is happening and the confidence was built a little bit better today from the opportunities we had.”

The Blue Devils will hit the road next week, traveling to Charlottesville, Va., to face No. 6 Virginia Friday at 6 p.m. before hosting Old Dominion Sunday at 1 p.m.

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