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No. 4 Duke field hockey falls to top-ranked Syracuse 1-0 in overtime

<p>Top-ranked Syracuse remained unbeaten after an overtime goal allowed the Orange to squeeze past the Blue Devils Saturday at Jack Katz Stadium.</p>

Top-ranked Syracuse remained unbeaten after an overtime goal allowed the Orange to squeeze past the Blue Devils Saturday at Jack Katz Stadium.

The Blue Devils hoped they could knock off the undefeated Orange for their seniors’ last home match, but came up just short Saturday.

No. 4 Duke held off top-ranked Syracuse through 78 scoreless minutes but could not complete the upset at Jack Katz Stadium, falling 1-0 in overtime. Redshirt senior goalkeeper Lauren Blazing tallied 12 saves in the game, and looking to stop the Orange attack for her 13th, dove forward out of the cage. Before Blazing could reestablish herself in the goal, Alma Fenne found the ball and then the goal from six yards out.

“We came into this game knowing that Syracuse was going to bring a lot of attacking presence. The game plan to keep them outside worked well most of the game,” Blazing said. “[Fenne] has a lot of skill. Obviously I should have gotten the ball, but she played it well and kudos to her. It was a disappointing finish for us.”

The Orange (16-0, 6-0 in the ACC) gave Duke (11-5, 2-4) few opportunities to score in the first half. Despite breaking into Syracuse’s defensive zone multiple times, the Blue Devils could not get a look at the goal. Even with the Orange playing a man down after a green card on Laura Hurff in the 31st minute, Duke could not capitalize and went into the locker room at halftime without taking a shot.

The Syracuse offense—which entered Saturday ranked third in the nation in goals per game with 4.2—gave Blazing and the Blue Devil defense little breathing room, firing off eight shots in the first period and seven more in the second.

Blazing came up big with seven saves in the opening period, matching her season-high for most saves in a period. The redshirt senior finished the game with 12 stops, her second-highest total behind the 13 from the team’s 3-2 overtime loss against Stanford Aug. 30.

Five minutes into the second period, sophomore forward Ashley Kristen took Duke’s first shot of the game and earned the squad’s first penalty corner in the scramble with the Orange defense. After leaving the cage early twice, Hurff once again gave the Blue Devils an opportunity to play with a man up. Senior Amanda Kim took the penalty corner and passed to sophomore Alyssa Chillano, but Chillano’s shot missed wide right.

Duke only took one more shot on goal in regulation, but Orange goalkeeper Jess Jenko blocked the attempt from freshman forward Caroline Andretta.

The Blue held off the persistent Syracuse attack through both 35-minute periods, shutting out the Orange in regulation for the first time this season. Syracuse had only played one overtime game before Saturday—a 2-1 win against then-No.6 Stanford Aug. 28.

The lone goal from Fenne sealed the win for the Orange—the only win with just one goal for the unbeaten squad.

“We have been playing high-ranked opponents the entire season. For us it was the opportunity to play again and to play at home, and bring home one of our best games. Unfortunately we fell short,” Duke head coach Pam Bustin said. “We have been saying all year that we just need to compete and believe in our game plan. And we did that today. We just have to find a way to bring a little bit more and to rise above.”

Duke’s five seniors—Blazing, Kim, Aileen Johnson, Hannah Barreca and Sarah Urdahl—were honored with their parents on the field after the game. The group has guided the Blue Devils to a 48-30 record during the past four seasons, highlighted by a trip to the 2013 NCAA championship game.

“My experience here has been amazing. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the entire world,” Blazing said. “I have made some of the best friends in the entire world. We have the best coaching staff on the planet and we are at an amazing school. It’s the top of the line. And it’s not over yet. This is definitely something we can build from for the rest of the season.”

With Saturday’s loss, Duke solidified its No. 5 seed in the ACC tournament. Before the conference tournament begins, Duke has one match left of the regular season and will head to Lynchburg, Va., Oct. 31 to face No. 9 Liberty at 1 p.m.

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