For the first time in four years, Duke returned to Durham from the Big Ten/ACC Cup with a loss.
In the fourth edition of the inter-conference contests, the No. 3 Blue Devils looked poised for another weekend sweep after easily dispatching No. 12 Northwestern Friday afternoon 4-0. However, they were unable to continue the momentum, running into home team No. 4 Maryland at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex in College Park, Md., Sunday. The Terrapins struck early and never relinquished the lead, putting away Duke in a tight 4-3 contest.
“We were playing some great hockey, and we were playing with high intensity,” head coach Pam Bustin told GoDuke.com. “A lot of credit to the fight to get back in it. This is the battle. This kind of schedule is why you come to Duke.”
The first match could not have gone better for the Blue Devils. In a display of skill on both sides of the ball, the Duke squad outshot the Wildcats (2-2) 24-4 and earned five more penalty corners. Although the Blue Devils were unable to breakthrough in the first half despite tallying 13 shots and five corner opportunities to Northwestern’s none, the floodgates opened up in the second half.
“The first half, we really put on some great pressure from the front line and were able to pick up some balls in the midfield,” Bustin said. “Our back line was able to intercept and start some attack from the back.... We had some great chances, but when we went in the locker room at halftime, we had to challenge them to bring that same energy out, but with a focus to finish.”
Rose Tynan scored a backhander in the 38th minute to start the scoring off a Margaux Paolino assist. Ten minutes later, Paolino scored off a penalty corner, and it took just 42 seconds after that for freshman Olivia Sahaydak to put Duke in front 3-0 off an assist from fellow freshman Leah Crouse. Tynan closed out the scoring for the contest in the 67th minute, with the assist coming from another freshman in Kiki Rozemeijer.
“I said at halftime the floodgates were going to open—it was just a matter of pushing through,” Tynan told GoDuke.com. “Once one came, it was going to fall for us. It is definitely good to score goals and we are generating a lot of shots.”
Unfortunately for the Blue Devils (3-1), winning the shots battle did not lead to victory against rival Maryland, which eliminated Duke last season in the NCAA quarterfinals.
After fending off corner opportunities early, the Terrapins broke through the Blue Devil defense in the 13th minute, with Bibi Donraadt scoring off a deflection. Just under two minutes later, Maryland doubled its lead, with Bodil Keus striking of a penalty corner.
Duke generated seven shots and three penalty corners to the Terrapins’ five and two, respectively by the break, but could not find paydirt–much like the Northwestern contest.
“We had the opportunities,” Bustin said. “You know the old adage, ‘A team is more vulnerable right after they’ve scored.’ And I think that’s really where we took advantage and capitalized on the energy we’d been putting out the whole game. We have just got to do it every chance we have.”
Less than 10 minutes into the second half, Haley Schleicher found the back of the cage off a penalty stroke to put the Blue Devils on the board. The Maryland squad was not fazed, creating multiple scoring opportunities before Melissa Wilken broke through.
Sahaydek tallied her team-high fourth goal in three games with a diving finish off a pass from Crouse. Nonetheless, the Terrapins (5-0) responded once again with less than eight minutes remaining on Nike Lorenz’s sixth goal of the year.
Although sophomore Lily Posternak put home a shot off a pass from Tynan into the bottom left corner of the cage with less than six minutes remaining, the Blue Devils were unable to find an equalizer despite pulling goalie Sammi Steele—who had three saves—to ultimately fall 4-3 in a valiant performance in scorching heat.
“Being as deep as we are and having that confidence that, ‘I can go as hard as I have to and I will get that break. And somebody will come in and go as hard as I just went,’ is really awesome,” Bustin said of the high temperatures. “It allows our players to really push it.”
Duke will have almost week to regroup before heading farther north to play No. 10 Princeton Friday in its second of five straight contests away from home.
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