A good offense was the best defense for No. 2 Duke Sunday in its first shutout in three weeks.
The Blue Devils shut out Miami University in a 2-0 win Sunday afternoon at Jack Katz Stadium and held its opponent to just five shots. Although Duke had trouble finishing its opportunities, it only needed to score twice to come away with its 12th win of the season.
The Blue Devils got off to a slow start, as the RedHawks played them to a draw in the first half. It looked like more of the same at the beginning of the second half after Duke missed its first four shots. But moments after a missed penalty stroke, junior Rose Tynan and senior Ashley Kristen both scored to put the match away for the Blue Devils.
Duke did an excellent job both maintaining pressure on Miami University's defense and quickly snuffing out any potential RedHawk retaliation. By the end of the match, the Blue Devils had attempted a whopping 29 shots and rarely let the ball enter their half of the field.
“It was obviously frustrating in the first half,” Tynan said. “We had a lot of shots and opportunities, and we weren’t putting them away. So it was a matter of perseverance in the circle. Both of the goals weren’t open shots from the top. It was working through and keeping on pushing.”
Duke (12-2) breathed a sigh of relief when Tynan opened the scoring just two minutes into the second half. Her first attempt was blocked, but she managed to control the deflection and sneak it past junior goalie Maddie Passarella for her 11th goal of the season.
Five minutes later, Kristen scored her fifth goal of the year after receiving a cross from junior Morgan Bitting and darting through the defense to put the Blue Devils up two.
“When your focus is sustaining the attack, then you’re more conscious of how to shut down any kind of attacking opportunity that they want to create,” Duke head coach Pam Bustin said. “So we had to stay alert and be aware that when the ball was coming out that we knew where their outlets were so that we could shut it down.”
Duke's defense was stellar all game, making plays whenever the RedHawks' offense threatened. With less than 10 minutes remaining, Leonor Berlie fired a shot that was deflected by Blue Devil goalie Sammi Steele. But the shot would have gone in anyway had senior back Alyssa Chillano not made an impressive effort to keep it from crossing the line for a defensive save.
Later, with three minutes on the clock, Miami University (6-7) had another penalty corner, but Steele made two critical saves to keep the RedHawks off the board.
After giving up eight goals in their previous five games, Duke finally returned to the level of defense that helped it shut out its first three opponents of the season.
“We always focus on defense and try to make it a team effort,” Kristen said. “We had great defense at some points, and then other points we have to stay strong and keep going. But we work to have defense as a team.”
It is impossible to mention defense without recognizing how Miami University played on that end to keep the score respectable. Behind Passarella’s 15 saves, the RedHawks withstood the Blue Devil onslaught valiantly and held them to a shot percentage worse than 7 percent.
With the victory, Duke improved to 9-0 against nonconference opponents, but with a big ACC game against No. 5 North Carolina coming up Friday, the Blue Devils are not satisfied.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Tynan said. “But that’s good.”
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