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Mackintire's game-winner sends Duke field hockey past No. 18 James Madison in OT

<p>Sophomore Alexa Mackintire notched the game-winning goal less than a minute into overtime Sunday at James Madison for her third score of the season.</p>

Sophomore Alexa Mackintire notched the game-winning goal less than a minute into overtime Sunday at James Madison for her third score of the season.

After allowing a goal with three minutes left in regulation, the Blue Devils were faced with their fourth sudden-death overtime of the season. But Duke only needed less than a minute of extra time to rally its offense and put away the Dukes Sunday.

Sophomore Alexa Mackintire scored the game-winning goal 40 seconds into overtime to lift the No. 4 Blue Devils to a 2-1 victory against No. 18 James Madison in Harrisonburg, Va. With the Dukes a player short after a green card in the final minute of regulation, Mackintire took advantage of an opportunity in front of the goal off an assist from senior Hannah Barreca to seal the match.

“For us, it was just to work the attack, sustain the attack and put the pressure on while we’re a man up,” Duke head coach Pam Bustin told GoDuke.com. “The kids were really poised in achieving that. It was a great shot by Alexa right off the defender because they were a little scrambled. It was a good finish.”

In the first half, the Dukes (11-4) held a 9-3 shot advantage and took five penalty corners to the Blue Devils’ one, but goalkeeper Lauren Blazing kept Duke in the game. The redshirt senior tallied seven saves in the opening period, including three in less than 90 seconds when the Blue Devils were unable to clear the ball out of their defensive zone in the 15th and 16th minutes. Blazing’s first-half performance Sunday equaled her highest save total in a period this season, which she recorded in the second half of Duke’s 3-2 overtime loss to Stanford Aug. 30.

Despite James Madison’s strong offensive effort, the Blue Devils (11-4) found the back of the cage first. Midfielder Hunter Bracale found Ashley Kristen open on the right side of the goal and the sophomore forward tapped the ball in past the Dukes’ goalkeeper Sara Kraeutler.

Duke held the 1-0 advantage until the 67th minute. James Madison called a timeout and pulled Kraeutler out of the cage to put an extra player on offense. The Dukes’ strategy paid off as the Blue Devils were unable to defend Melanie Kusakavitch in a scramble in front of the goal, and the James Madison score sent the game into overtime.

“We were in good shape as far as our organization. But they had a free hit and got us a little scrambled,” Bustin said. “The ball was really bouncy—they played the ball up and it bounced so it kind of got us jumping a little bit. They were able to get a player to the open post and she just knocked it in. So it was a scramble, and credit to James Madison for having the aggression to stay on it.”

With two matches remaining on their regular season schedule, the Blue Devils will look to improve on maintaining possession of the ball and creating more opportunities to score. Their opponents have held the shot advantage in three of the squad’s last four games, but Blazing and Duke’s strong defense pulled through in all but one of those contests.

The lone exception came Friday in Chapel Hill, as the Blue Devils were unable to withstand the attack of one of the nation’s most dominant offenses. Although Duke only allowed two goals to a Tar Heel squad that averages 4.4 per game, the offense did not match its defensive effort, scoring only one goal at the end of the first half. North Carolina snapped Duke’s six-game winning streak with a 2-1 victory.

The Blue Devils will need more than one defensive stand to come away with a win in their final home match. Duke will face No. 1 Syracuse at Jack Katz Stadium Saturday at 1 p.m., looking to hand the Orange their first loss of the season.

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