Looking to cap the regular season on a high note before postseason play, the Blue Devils took care of business on the road with a dominant performance.
Playing Ohio at Pruitt Field in Athens, Ohio, No. 3 Duke shut out the Bobcats 4-0 in a tune-up before the grueling ACC tournament—starting Thursday—that could see the Blue Devils play three matches in four days. Four different Duke players tallied goals as the team controlled possession and play early. Two goals in the first 17 minutes set the tone for the game, and the Blue Devils never looked back after capturing the early lead.
“I am really pleased with our ability to control the pace of play with our possession and our movement,” head coach Pam Bustin told GoDuke.com. “It was one of the first games in a long time that I thought we were really efficient. We used the energy we needed, stay connected—especially in the first half. It was a very clean and controlled first half.”
Olivia Sahaydak notched her 14th goal of the season, capitalizing on Duke’s first penalty corner. The standout freshman took a pass from senior Rose Tynan and put the ball home in the top right of the cage to give the Blue Devils the early lead. Just over three minutes later, in the 17th minute, sophomore Libby Thompson recorded her second career goal off a deflection from Tynan into the bottom right of the cage.
With about three minutes left in the half, Duke (14-4) added to its lead after Caroline Andretta picked up a Kiki Rozemeijer pass from outside the circle before finding paydirt right down the middle for her 11th tally of the year.
“Everybody on the team contributed on the field today, which is awesome,” Bustin said. “After 17 games, we all need to be prepared and ready and able to fulfill your role, and they did today. I think having different goal scorers and assists really showed that we stayed together as a team, created attack as a team and defended as a team.”
To close out the team’s eighth victory in its last nine contests, junior Margaux Paolino recorded her sixth goal of the season in the 65th minute off an assist from Andretta. The dominant performance saw the Blue Devils outshoot Ohio 26-4 and rack up five more penalty corner opportunities than the Bobcats (4-10).
With its regular-season slate behind it, Duke will shift its attention to the ACC tournament, which starts Thursday afternoon. The second-seeded Blue Devils will play No. 7 seed Syracuse in the quarterfinals in Chapel Hill.
Duke played the Orange in early September to open ACC play, winning 1-0 on the road. Andretta scored 20 minutes into the game, and the defense held Syracuse without a shot the entire day, preserving the shutout.
“[I am] super proud of this group coming in and handling the schedule that we did this year, staying on, improving from game to game and learning from game to game,” Bustin said. “What a great regular season for us, especially being on the road as much as we were. I think now we need to take that energy and take the experiences that we’ve had and let’s get prepared for the next season here, which is the postseason.”
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