After losing for the first time this season Sunday against North Carolina, many wondered how Duke would respond from its first bit of adversity of the season.
The Blue Devils bounced back just fine.
No. 3 Duke scored four first-half goals and did not look back, coasting to a 6-2 victory against No. 15 Boston College at Jack Katz Stadium Friday night. The Blue Devils displayed none of the stagnant play that hurt them in their loss to the Tar Heels last weekend and got goals from four different players in the first 35 minutes of action.
“This team is deep and this team is talented," Duke head coach Pam Bustin said. "On any given day, everybody has to be ready to contribute and do their job—and they were ready. We had some great goal-scorers from the backfield all the way up to the front. Whoever wants to score can score.”
The Blue Devils (9-1, 3-0 in the ACC) finished the game with a 16-13 advantage in shots and took seven corners compared to just three for the Eagles. Duke capitalized on its chances, netting three of its goals from penalty corners and continuing to place pressure on Boston College goalkeeper Audra Hampsch all evening.
The Blue Devils got on the board just three minutes into the game when junior Ainsley Gill fired a shot into the back of the net after receiving a pass from senior Heather Morris just outside the circle. Gill became the helper on the next Duke goal, as she combined with classmate Stephanie Pezzuti to assist on a goal from junior Alyssa Chillano on a penalty corner.
The Blue Devils' balanced and versatile offensive attack became a theme for the night, as six Duke players finished with at least one assist in the win.
“Having such a good record is so important for the season and it just feels good and looks good, and I’m just really proud of our team and the way we’ve been playing," Morris said. "That’s more important because it just shows we’re going to keep the ball rolling and keep moving with momentum into the future."
After the Blue Devils went up 2-0, Duke's defense made its mark on the game.
The Eagles (4-6, 1-3) had a chance to strike in the middle of the first half but were stymied by two Duke saves—one by goalkeeper Sammi Steele and another by midfielder Hunter Bracale in front of the net. The Blue Devils then turned defense into offense, moving the ball down the field on quick passes that led to transition opportunities against a scrambling Boston College defense.
In the 25th minute, Duke's fluid attack got the ball to sophomore Caroline Andretta, who passed up a shot and faked out Hampsch by lacing a perfect pass to Morris. The Blue Devils' leading goal-scorer knew what to do when the ball found her, and she fired the ball directly into the back of the net from around four yards out for her 9th goal of the season. The senior later tacked on her 10th goal of the year early in the second half to push Duke's lead to 5-0.
Duke was able to rely on its defense for much of the evening, as Steele faced little pressure between the pipes and finished with three saves. Although the Blue Devil offense staked the team to an insurmountable lead, Duke displayed a renewed focus on the defensive end after giving up three second-half goals to North Carolina.
“Our focus this game was on our ability to compete, to compete for every ball and to stay connected as a team, and they did a great job from the first whistle today to make that happen," Bustin said. "Even as the game waned on and we were working and we had some points on the board, it was about making sure our defense stayed disciplined."
Duke played at a high level for a full 70 minutes Friday after breaking down in the second half against the Tar Heels. The Blue Devils did not take their foot off the gas pedal this time around, controlling the pace of play in the final 35 minutes of the contest despite allowing the Eagles to find the back of the net twice.
“We always talk about after the first half, no matter what the score is, it’s still 0-0 and we need to continue to bring the energy and the fire, Morris said. "So we acted like it was 0-0 and we just came out there and tried to do the same thing again in the next half.”
The schedule will not get much easier for Duke, as it hosts No. 13 Boston University Sunday before hitting the road for games against No. 4 Syracuse and No. 11 Princeton next weekend.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.