Alyssa Chillano entered Sunday's game against Longwood without a goal this season. She finished the game with three.
The sophomore midfielder's first career hat trick punctuated an offensive explosion for No. 5 Duke, which defeated Longwood 7-0 on a windy afternoon at Jack Katz Stadium. The Blue Devils pressed forward for a constant barrage of chances inside the Lancers' circle throughout the game, completing an unbeaten homestand with their fourth straight win.
"Our whole thing is about having an attacking mentality, both on offense and defense," Chillano said. "When we have the ball, we’re attacking their defense and even when we don’t have the ball, we’re stepping up in front of our girls and making interceptions."
The Blue Devils (8-3) came out firing from the opening whistle, scoring three times in the first 10 minutes. Junior Hunter Bracale scored the first goal less than four minutes into the contest after seizing control of a loose ball deep in the Lancers' territory and burying it into the bottom left corner of the cage. Moments later, Chillano converted on a chance off a penalty corner to double the lead. Sophomore Ashley Kristen completed the opening flurry with a goal from close range off an assist from Morgan Bitting 9:36 into the game.
This early 3-0 lead left no doubt about the outcome for most of the contest, but Duke continued to attack, with junior Heather Morris and Chillano each adding goals off of corners in the second half. The Blue Devils finished the game with a 28-3 advantage in shots and earned 14 penalty corners that created five of their seven goals.
"We’ve worked into our corner execution success," Duke head coach Pam Bustin said. "We’ve got a lot of kids with a lot of guns so we can move some people around and try different things. I thought they handled their opportunities well today."
Duke's defense completed a flawless weekend with another shutout after holding No. 9 Louisville scoreless in a 2-0 win Friday night. The Lancers (4-6) could not muster a shot on goal and only earned two corners during the contest. Longwood's lone threat was off a corner midway through the second half—a clean shot sailed high into the cage, but was not low enough to hit the board at the back of the net. Shots directly off of corners must hit this board in order to count as goals.
"We’ve just locked into the discipline of what it takes to play good defense for 70 minutes. We’re playing opponents that are going to challenge it and we just have to meet that challenge with good discipline," Bustin said. "Once we do that, the team connects and creates some attacking opportunities for us."
These two wins built off of home victories last weekend against then-No.15 Old Dominion and then-No. 12 Delaware to wrap up an impressive homestand for the Blue Devils. Duke only has one home game left—Oct. 24 against Syracuse—but the 4-0 stretch gives Bustin's squad a lot of confidence as they go on the road for most of the rest of the season.
"We’ve learned some hard lessons through our losses and we’ve made some good adjustments even through our wins," Bustin said. "I’m really happy for the kids to come out and embrace the fact that we are home and take care of some good wins while we’re here."
The past two weeks have also exposed Duke to a variety of weather conditions. Sunday's game featured strong gusts of wind and a steady second-half drizzle, after the Blue Devils had to play in heavier rain during the previous three games.
These conditions have prepared Duke well for the four-game road trip that lies ahead and even has some thinking about the ultimate goal. The Final Four will be played in Ann Arbor, Mich., Nov. 20-22.
"I think it's prepared us for any kind of weather, so I think it’s going to help us for a national championship. We’re looking forward to that in Ann Arbor," Chillano said. "That’s going to be cold, so it’s helped us for everything."
Duke will be in action again next weekend in Boston, where they are set to face Boston College Friday night in a conference game and Boston University Sunday afternoon.
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