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Overtime goal sends Duke field hockey past No. 3 Maryland

<p>Senior Aileen Johnson scored a goal in each of Duke’s wins this weekend at the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, leading the Blue Devils to a pair of wins against two top-10 teams.</p>

Senior Aileen Johnson scored a goal in each of Duke’s wins this weekend at the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, leading the Blue Devils to a pair of wins against two top-10 teams.

The Blue Devils were less than a second away from clinching the upset against Maryland, but a goal from Terrapin forward Emma Rissinger with the clock at 69:59 forced Duke into its second overtime in the past four games. But unlike last weekend’s game against No. 6 Stanford, this time the clock stopped in the extra period with the score in the Blue Devils’ favor.

In the final game of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, No. 5 Duke defeated the No. 3 Terrapins 2-1 Sunday at the Spooky Nook Sports complex in Lancaster, Pa., wrapping up the weekend with a pair of wins against two top-10 opponents. Freshman Morgan Bitting provided the heroics, netting the golden goal in the 79th minute.

With Maryland’s goal coming as time ran out in the second half, the Blue Devils had to wait for the referee’s ruling on whether the ball had crossed the goal line. But captains Aileen Johnson, Lauren Blazing and Amanda Kim were determined to come away with a victory.

“Our captains did an amazing job keeping the team focused...whether the umpires said we won right then or we would have to go back out on the field and win it again,” Duke head coach Pam Bustin told GoDuke.com. “I am extremely proud of their leadership today.”

Johnson led the team’s offensive effort with the first score of the game—her second of the weekend—capitalizing on an opportunity created by Duke’s forward line five minutes into the second period. The senior tallied a team-high three shots on goal in the contest.

Blazing kept the Terrapins off the scoreboard in the first half, fending off four Maryland penalty corners. The redshirt senior goalkeeper turned in seven saves but was not alone on the defensive front. Maryland (2-2) held an edge on Duke (3-1) in both shots and corners, 17-14 and 8-7, respectively. But the Blue Devils made key saves when they were most needed.

Senior Hannah Barreca came up with a save off a penalty corner in the 14th minute of the match to keep things scoreless, and sophomore midfielder Stephanie Pezzuti dove for a key save in the 53rd minute to preserve the Blue Devil lead.

 “We have a lot of pride in our backfield, that we are a force of a defensive unit,” Bustin said. “And we have to back that and do it consistently, not depending on Lauren to make these great saves. I’m extremely proud of Hannah, Stephanie and the other defenders for being aware and alert.”

Both of the squad’s matches this weekend were scoreless for the first half with late goals by Johnson and Robin Blazing carrying the team to the win against No. 10 Northwestern Friday night.

The Wildcats’ goal Friday was not enough to stop the Blue Devils, but Rissinger’s goal Sunday—the third allowed by Duke in the final minute of regulation in as many games—brought back memories of Stanford’s goal with 32 seconds left to tie the score Aug. 30. That match ended in Duke’s first loss of the season, a 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Cardinal.

“Our kids were pretty angry at themselves [about the Maryland goal],” Bustin said. “But the energy was all about us and us getting better. That’s what fueled them. We played the overtime with a lot of patience and a lot of calculation. And they took advantage of opportunities.”

Once in overtime, Duke earned a penalty corner in the 79th minute. Barreca played the ball in to Bitting, who drove home the game-winner to the back post for the first goal of her career.

The Blue Devils wrapped up four games and two weekends on the road on a high note but are ready to take the lessons learned to the practice field before their first home games next weekend. Duke will host Wake Forest Friday at 6 p.m. and William & Mary Sunday at 1 p.m at Jack Katz Stadium.

“We are learning a lot, learning it fast and learning it at the highest level,” Bustin said.  “This was a great game. We were challenged on both ends. For us to come out with a win today is big, especially with the matches we have had leading up to today.”

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