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Takeaways from Duke field hockey's eventful weekend

<p>Sammi Steele's solid season in goal continued.</p>

Sammi Steele's solid season in goal continued.

Okay, take a breath.

No. 4 Duke came up with a win against James Madison Sunday less than 48 hours after dropping an overtime contest 3-2 to No. 7 Virginia. And while the loss was surely heartbreaking with Duke losing a lead late, the Blue Devils came back strong to handle the Dukes from James Madison by a final of 2-0, reaffirming their strength.

Under the lights Friday, the game was off to a frantic start, with each team recording five shots in the first two quarters. No shots found twine, however, and the score remaining knotted at zero, until Duke's Olivia Sahaydak put a shot past the keeper halfway through the third quarter. Haley Schleicher added another for the Blue Devils in the fourth, but Virginia tied the game with a minute to go, and carried its momentum into overtime, scoring inside the first two minutes of play.

Sunday found the Blue Devils playing an entirely different ballgame. It was the early chances that powered Duke, Leah Crouse finding the back of the cage in the first minute and Noor Van de Laar slamming one home later in the first. The Blue Devils put the game on cruise control, relying on strong defensive play to hold off a four-shot effort by James Madison in the final frame.

Three statistics that matter

1. Four goals by four different players: Four Duke attackers got in on the scoring action this weekend, as the offensive production continues to be spread up and down the lineup. No player has hit the double-digit mark in goals, yet Duke (11-4) boasts an impressive 11-4 overall record. Ten players have at least one to their name, in an offense that puts up 2.6 goals a game.

2. 1.01 Goals Against Average for Sammi Steele: Goaltender Sammi Steele has been having quite the year protecting the cage for the Blue Devils, this weekend carrying her over the one goal allowed per game mark by the narrowest of margins. Her poise in net along with solid defensive play around her has been a key for this Blue Devil squad and will continue to be important as the team advances towards the postseason.

3. 2:28: The time, in minutes, it took for Virginia (13-3) to score two late goals to come from behind and beat Duke on Friday, a demoralizing loss for any team, exacerbated by the rapid succession of the conversions. The ability of the Blue Devils to rebound from that loss to take care of business against James Madison (6-8) is a testament to their resilience.

Key quotes

Duke head coach Pam Bustin to on Friday’s loss:

"I thought we played a great game in a great contest tonight. We were finishing well in the circle, but our corner defense we will need to take a look at and our corner attack we just need to finish and execute better."

Bustin to on going forward:

"We will continue to work together to figure it out, we are putting our heart and souls into it and we are going to keep working together to find success.”

Bustin to on the team’s quick turnaround:

"After Friday's loss, the team really did come together and continued to set some goals and realign some commitments to their game. I thought today we started off on the right foot.”

Looking forward

Duke will finish out the regular season with four games, hoping to build some momentum prior to the postseason. The Blue Devils face both Louisville and Richmond next weekend in Durham, looking to defend their home turf.


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