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Duke field hockey caps weekend road trip with offensive onslaught in win

Senior Stephanie Pezzuti scored her first goal of the season against Boston University.
Senior Stephanie Pezzuti scored her first goal of the season against Boston University.

After shipping up to Boston this weekend to face two ranked opponents, Duke returned to Durham with another pair of impressive victories under its belt.

Following a shootout victory Friday against No. 9 Boston College at the Field Hockey Complex in Newton, Mass., the No. 2 Blue Devils wrapped up their road trip with a convincing 5-1 win against No. 22 Boston University at New Balance Field in Boston. Duke has won six straight since a 4-1 loss to then-No. 10 Virginia Sept. 8. 

In Friday’s tight 3-2 overtime win, Duke’s offense was firing on all cylinders in the first half, but went silent after the break to let the Eagles tie the score. The Blue Devils relied on a shootout after two overtime periods to emerge victorious. 

“Everybody was aware that we fought hard to win the game on Friday night. It wasn’t our best performance, and they didn’t want that to be the reason why we don’t win,” Duke head coach Pam Bustin said. “We got together and took care of ourselves and had a great team meeting on Saturday night and just turned it back around and got it back to our game. [We just got] back to the fundamentals of what makes Duke field hockey succeed, and everyone came onboard and made that happen today.”

The Blue Devils (9-1, 2-1 in the ACC) got off to a fast start Sunday—just five minutes into the game, junior forward Rose Tynan scored from the center of the circle off an assist from senior forward Ashley Kristen. Eight minutes later, Tynan’s classmate Erin Scherrer gained possession of a loose ball and scored on a wide-open shot. 

Duke continued to keep the pressure on the Terrier defense with a corner goal from fullback Stephanie Pezzuti in the 18th minute.

Unlike in Friday’s second-half stagnation against Boston College (8-4, 0-4 ACC), the Blue Devils kept their foot on the gas after the break against Boston University. Tynan returned the favor from the first half with an assist to Kristen for the senior’s fourth goal of the season in the 52nd minute. Then, in the 64th minute, Tynan capped her sensational performance with her team-high ninth goal of the season after a dribbling showcase across the left side of the field. 

Duke converted on half of the 10 shots it managed, an impressive feat for the Blue Devils considering the Terriers’ junior goalkeeper Kathleen Keegan entered the game with a .692 save percentage this season. 

Perhaps even more importantly, Duke's defensive unit played a stifling game, holding freshman forward Ailsa Connolly—who leads the Terriers (6-5, 2-0 in the Patriot League) with seven goals this season—to just one unsuccessful shot. 

The Blue Devils allowed six total shots Sunday, four of which were on goal. Ally Hammel scored Boston University's only goal late in the first after Duke had already scored three goals, and Blue Devil goalkeeper Sammi Steele made three saves. Steele, a 2016 NFCHA All-South Region first team selection, is ranked fifth nationally in goals against average at 0.75 and sixth in save percentage at .813. 

“I’m kind of glad they got more shots, because more shots with one goal doesn’t look good, but it was a nice corner,” Bustin said. 

The comfortable victory drew a sharp contrast with Friday’s nail-biter, which Duke won thanks to another strong performance from Steele, who made a series of key saves in the shootout, including the game-sealing save on an attempt from Boston College’s Brooke Matherson.

The Eagles were able to break through the Blue Devils’ defense to manage 11 shots on goal in the game, but were mostly stymied by Steele, who made nine saves. The entire defense was a brick wall in overtime, overcoming three corner attempts for Boston College in the second overtime alone to keep the score knotted at two. 

Duke will have an entire week of practice before its next conference game against Syracuse Saturday at Jack Katz Stadium at noon. The 13th-ranked Orange are coming off a 1-0 victory against No. 16 Princeton.

“[I'm] really excited to welcome some incredible hockey teams to our field," Bustin said. "We have quite a task ahead of us, but I think we’re excited to face that task."


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