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Duke field hockey bounces back by defending home field against Stanford

Hannah Miller helped spark Duke's offense.
Hannah Miller helped spark Duke's offense.

The temperatures weren’t the only things heating up this weekend. The Blue Devils returned to Williams Field and showed a strong return to form after a disappointing ACC debut. 

After falling to Syracuse in a double-overtime contest on Friday, the second-ranked Blue Devils bounced back in a 1-0 victory over No. 15 Stanford. With temperatures rising to 95 degrees at halftime, the victory took everything the team had and the hard work paid off in a well-deserved win. 

“I’m really proud of the fact that under these conditions both teams played a heck of a game,” said head coach Pam Bustin. “For us coming off a double overtime disappointing loss to step up and have a little mix in our lineup and a little mix in our formation, it’s good for us in the long run. It’ll be really a positive thing for us as we move forward.” 

The story of this matchup centered around the second quarter. Coming off an uncharacteristically slow first quarter, putting up only one shot, Duke (8-1) picked up the energy and intensity to take ownership of the game in the second quarter with eight shots. The ball movement and teamwork finally paid off at the 17:48 mark when back Jillian Wolgemuth connected with Olivia Sahaydak for the first and only goal of the game. 

Not only were they shooting more, but the Blue Devil defense suffocated the Cardinal (6-5), allowing only seven shots for the entire game. Backs and midfielders were hard at work pressuring every offensive push by  Stanford, who refused to let up despite its struggles.  

“Our midfield does a lot of work,” Bustin said. “They do a lot of work defensively. They create a lot of stuff for us on the attack and I think that was the truth again today.” 

The brutally hot temperatures affected everyone on the field today, and it required adaptation from both sides to ensure that the players could keep up their usual intensity. This meant substituting frequently and giving every player the rest they needed. However, a select few, including forward Hannah Miller, were ready for the challenge and did not sit on the bench for long.  

“I think coming off our loss on Friday, I just had the motivation and the team supporting us just to come out and play our game,” Miller said on her motivation to play extended minutes. 

Goalkeeper Sammi Steele played the whole game and earned a shutout for the fourth time this season. Steele was active the entire game communicating and blocking critical shots, any of which could have opened the door for Stanford to make an overtime stand like Syracuse did on Friday. 

Duke has not and clearly will not forget the lessons it learned in Friday’s loss that gave the team a 0-1 beginning in ACC play. While it is important to not dwell on the past, the Blue Devils have harnessed that disappointment and turned it into motivation.  

“We just want to keep taking one day at a time,” Bustin said. “We’re looking to continue to improve and sometimes it takes a loss to kind of reset and regroup and get back to what we have to do.” 

The Blue Devils will face perhaps their greatest challenge of the season so far when they take on No. 1 UNC this Friday. If they can keep a strong defensive presence and stay aggressive on offense, they stand a very good chance at dethroning the conference leader.  

“When we set the tempo and actually play the best we can, I don’t think we’re stoppable,” Wolgemuth said. 

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