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Alyssa Chillano game-winner, clutch saves keep Duke field hockey perfect at Big Ten/ACC Cup

<p>Junior Alyssa Chillano scored two goals Sunday to give the defender four tallies this season&mdash;tied for most on the team.</p>

Junior Alyssa Chillano scored two goals Sunday to give the defender four tallies this season—tied for most on the team.

In the Blue Devils’ first two games of the season, Duke’s offense stood out, powering the Blue Devils to two routs by a combined eight-goal margin.

Duke only scored four goals total in its two games this weekend, but sophomore goalkeeper Sammi Steele and the Blue Devil defense stepped up to keep the team perfect.

No. 4 Duke knocked off No. 16 Northwestern 3-2 in overtime Sunday afternoon at the Spooky Nook Sports Complex in Lancaster, Pa., after besting No. 6 Maryland 1-0 Friday. Junior defender Alyssa Chillano and Steele were the stars for the Blue Devils, with Chillano notching the game-winner against the Wildcats for her second goal Sunday and Steele combining for 16 saves across the two games.

The two Big Ten teams threatened much more often than William and Mary and Liberty did in Duke’s  first two games—Steele only had four saves in her first two starts—but the Blue Devils were up for the challenge.

“The Big Ten is obviously a great conference with strong teams, and we faced two of them this week,” Duke head coach Pam Bustin told GoDuke.com. “They weren’t easy—they were battles—and hopefully all teams get better from it.”

Northwestern (2-2) capitalized on a string of early penalty corners in the game’s third minute to take a 1-0 lead but struggled to find the net again until the end of regulation. During that time, the Blue Devils (4-0) took control, with the versatile Chillano moving forward to notch her third tally of the season in the 11th minute and senior forward Heather Morris giving Duke the lead 21 minutes later after tracking down a loose ball.

The Blue Devils continued peppering Wildcat goalkeeper Lindsay von der Luft—who had a career-high 13 saves Sunday—with shots in the second half, but could not extend their lead despite a 22-14 advantage in shots for the game.

Duke’s inability to add a third goal proved costly with 80 seconds left in regulation.

Northwestern moved forward after von der Luft denied Blue Devil freshman Margaux Paolino and graduate student Aisling Naughton. After the Wildcats went a player up when they pulled von der Luft, Saar de Breij found an opening in the defense and took advantage, beating Steele to send the contest to overtime.

“Northwestern did a great job with the extra man strategy. We had addressed it earlier in the week and just had a little miscommunication,” Bustin said. “Sometimes that’s all it takes. I appreciate the experience that will get us to go back and try to shore up our defense for that. We know what to do—we’ve just got to make sure we make it happen on the field.”

Although the Wildcats entered overtime with momentum, Bustin’s team stayed aggressive, firing four shots before earning a penalty corner in the sixth minute of the extra session. On the ensuing play, Paolino found Chillano for her second goal of the contest to give Duke the win. One of the Blue Devils’ standout newcomers this season, Paolino already has six assists early in her freshman campaign.

Friday’s contest against the Terrapins (1-2) was a defensive struggle, with Maryland containing Duke’s offense after struggling to stop No. 2 Syracuse last week. The Blue Devils were outshot 9-5 in the first half and did not score until the game’s 42nd minute, when Alexa Mackintire found junior forward Ashley Kristen, who beat Sarah Holliday for her first score of 2016.

Although Duke did not have many other chances to score it did not matter. Steele and the defense were steady for the full 70 minutes, shutting down all 12 Maryland shots and four penalty corners. The shutout was Steele’s second against a top-15 team of her young career.

“Sammi was outstanding tonight, just outstanding,” Bustin told GoDuke.com after Friday’s game. “She made some great saves in there. That really gave us the energy we needed to keep the ball going forward.”

With three wins against ranked teams already this year, the Blue Devils will face their fourth straight top-20 team in their ACC opener against No. 5 Virginia Friday at 6 p.m. at Jack Katz Stadium. 

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