After playing three top-five teams and nine straight top-25 opponents to start the season, Duke field hockey continued to take advantage of the relative “lull” in its schedule.

Following up a 5-2 win against unranked James Madison at home last weekend, the fourth-ranked Blue Devils made short trips within the state, earning a 3-2 victory against No. 21 Wake Forest at Kentner Stadium in Winston-Salem N.C. Friday and an 8-0 dispatching of Appalachian State Sunday in Boone, N.C., at Adcock Field.

Duke opened the short road stretch with a slow start, falling behind just 93 seconds into the contest. The Demon Deacons converted the first penalty corner of the contest, with Anne Van Hoof knocking in her sixth goal of the season off a feed from Emily Adamson. However, the Blue Devils were quick to respond, with Margaux Paolino beating her defender and knocking the ball into the back of the cage from 10 yards out to knot the score in the 12th minute. 

“We just got right back to it, right on it,” head coach Pam Bustin told GoDuke.com. “I am really happy we did score within the next 10 minutes. That was really important. If it had gone on for too long it becomes a little more desperate, a little more frustrating.”

With its nerves settled, Duke (9-3, 2-1 in the ACC) was able to clamp down and control the game for the rest of the half. The Blue Devils held Wake Forest shot-less until about five minutes left in the period, when a kick-save from Sammi Steele—who had three saves on the evening—spurred a fast-break opportunity. Caroline Andretta found Rose Tynan, who knocked in a one-timer from 10 yards away for her eighth goal of the year, giving Duke a 2-1 lead at the break. 

“From there, once it was even, we just started playing a really good hockey game against a very good Wake team,” Bustin said. “I am really proud of the way we just kept at it for the full game. We never really let up our mindset and we never let up our desire to finish the game.”

However, the break may have stemmed the Blue Devils’ momentum, as the Demon Deacons (6-5, 1-2) responded under three minutes later with Adamson scoring off a cross to tie the game at two apiece. Despite Duke generating three more shots in the period, play went back-and-forth until Tynan was awarded a penalty stroke opportunity in the 54th minute. Sophomore Lexi Davidson was given the honor and capitalized, scoring her first career goal and notching the decisive score in the Blue Devils 3-2 victory.

“I just wanted to score so we could get the lead and get the win,” Davidson said. “It is good to get a win to start off the weekend, especially against a strong team.”

With one win under its belt, Duke headed further west into North Carolina to take on Appalachian State (4-8) Sunday afternoon. Unlike Friday’s outing, however, the Blue Devils came out firing, with a dominating wire-to-wire victory that saw the Duke offense shellac the Mountaineers with eight goals while holding them scoreless.

The onslaught started just more than five minutes into the contest, with none other than Tynan scoring off a penalty corner. However, the senior would not lead the team in scoring, rather freshman Olivia Sahaydak did. Registering her first career hat trick, the Bethlehem, Penn., native scored in the 34th, 47th and 65th minutes to push her season total up to seven.

“Today was a tribute to our depth and the preparation the entire team had,” said Bustin. “We wanted to focus on finishing and creating clear opportunities in our attacking circle, and we were able to do that. All the underclass attackers did a great job today—Libby [Thompson], Leah and Olivia. And I think our midfield too worked well with them to help create a lot of attacking opportunities.”

Erin Scherrer chipped in two goals herself, scoring 13 minutes after Tynan and two minutes after the break. Jillian Wogelmuth and Andretta rounded out the scoring for the Blue Devils, scoring within four minutes of one another, sandwiching Sahaydak’s final tally. Leah Crouse and Paolino were the primary distributors, tallying three and two assists, respectively, as nine different players finished with a point.

The offensive fireworks overshadowed a strong defensive performance that held Appalachian State without a goal and limited the Mountaineers to just four shots. The Blue Devils warded off five penalty corners in the opening half before completely clamping down in the second half. 

“We just have to continue to be aggressive and continue to keep our defensive structure intact,” Bustin. “We were able to make some corrections second half and really keep the scoresheet clean and not let them into our circle. It is something we will continue to work on and we have to take care of as soon as the game begins.”

Duke will return home at Jack Katz Stadium Friday evening to play No. 15 Virginia in another critical ACC contest. The Blue Devils will look to exact revenge after losing to the Cavaliers 4-1 on the road last season after just securing the number one ranking in the country.