After having her shot blocked with 26 seconds left in regulation, Rose Tynan came back in overtime and smashed a backhander into the right corner of the cage to give the Blue Devils their fifth straight victory.
No. 2 Duke, which was coming off a thrilling 3-2 victory against No. 5 North Carolina Friday, struggled to separate from Liberty, ultimately needing overtime to defeat the Flames 4-3 Sunday at Liberty Field Hockey Field in Lynchburg, Va.
“The fortitude of this team is awesome, and I hope they do not take it for granted. You want to play your best and make some changes as the game goes on,” Blue Devil head coach Pam Bustin told GoDuke.com. “But to be able to grind it out and get the results no matter what is something I just praise these guys so much about. They are just really a tough group.”
Tynan’s goal, her 13th of the year, came just more than three minutes into overtime. Following a Sammi Steele kick-save to clear the ball from in front of the cage, the junior forward from New Zealand pushed the ball up the field before cutting back, shedding her defender and ultimately sending the ball into the back of the cage.
“We have to just stay within ourselves,” Bustin said. “When we are under the pressure or things don't go your way right away, we go back to who we are in our strengths. And there were times that we did that and we did have some great chances.”
It was an uncharacteristically poor showing for the Duke defense, which had a top-five goals against average in the nation at just 0.97 goals per game allowed entering the contest. The three goals were the second-most the Blue Devils (14-2) have given up in a game all season. No unranked team had scored a single goal against them before Sunday.
“We could have done a better job in the midfield defensively as a unit," Bustin said. "That is something we will talk about and address, but our attack was great.”
To open the game, both teams traded shots before Duke struck first on Morgan Bitting’s first goal of the season off a Margaux Paolino assist. However, Liberty (6-9) responded less than three minutes later with a goal of its own from Victoria O’Keeffe off a centering pass from Abby Julius.
For the next 25 minutes, Duke dominated the scoring chances before finally breaking through again at the 29:22 mark. Caroline Andretta hammered home a goal off another Paolino assist to put the Blue Devils up 2-1. Despite having two more penalty corners and two shots before the half, Duke could not extend its lead, with one shot blocked and the other saved by Allison Schaefer.
Following the break, the Blue Devil offense came out firing again with another penalty corner just 70 seconds in, and Alexa Mackintire followed her shot to put home the rebound. With one of the top defenses in the country ahead by two goals, it appeared that the game was out of reach for the Flames.
However, Liberty would not go away on its Senior Night. Five minutes after the Mackintire goal, Jill Bolton put a backhand from just inside the circle into the back of the net to cut the deficit in half.
For the next 10 minutes, the teams traded offensive opportunities to no avail. Jillian Wolgemuth made a key defensive save for the Blue Devils and Paolino had her shot ring off the crossbar. Mackintire had three shots—one wide, one saved and one blocked—and Alyssa Chillano had another attempt blocked.
The Flames finally broke the futility with a game-tying goal from Alynn Richardson off an assist from Agueda Moroni following a penalty corner.
Duke outshot Liberty 21-11 and had 12 more penalty corners in the game, but could not seal the deal in regulation. Despite putting up three corners and six more shots to try to break the 3-3 deadlock, the Blue Devils had to go to overtime to wrap up the win.
“We dominated with great attacking plays. We drew the corners that we have been working on. Their corner defense was exceptional,” Bustin said. “We had opportunities on the corners that could have gone in and could have changed the whole game. But we kept just pushing through.”
The overtime victory was the second this season for Duke, which had to go to a shootout for a win against Boston College Sept. 29.
“Having that overtime experience at this point in the season hopefully helps—it only helps,” Bustin said. “It is going to become a real collective team effort to stay connected to really accentuate each other's strengths.”
The Blue Devils will return home for their season finale next weekend against Appalachian State on Senior Night before heading to the ACC tournament Nov. 2 in Louisville, Ky., where they will have a first-round date with Boston College.
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