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'Rollercoaster that only goes up': Duke field hockey snags first win of season

Duke's newcomers led the way Sunday afternoon.
Duke's newcomers led the way Sunday afternoon.

On a rainy fall day, it was the spring chickens who shined.

Duke cruised past Wake Forest Sunday at Jack Katz Stadium en route to a 2-0 victory, the team's first win of the season. Freshman Darcy Bourne led the way with three total shots, including the first goal of her collegiate career, while graduate transfer Eva Nunnink knocked in her first goal of the season as well. 

After losing to Wake Forest 2-1 Friday in Winston-Salem, N.C., the Blue Devils jumped out to a 1-0 lead 10 minutes into the rematch and never looked back. 

A large contributor to the turnaround performance was a team meeting the squad held Saturday following the Friday loss, in which they discussed how to play up to the potential they believed they had. 

“The positive energy in the locker room beforehand, the team talk, the warm up—we were all there together as a team and you could see [that] from the second the whistle went to the end,” Bourne said.

The scoring started with the Blue Devils (1-6, 0-4 in the ACC) taking advantage of a penalty corner in the first quarter thanks to a defensive mishap from the Demon Deacons. Head coach Pam Bustin had a play already drawn up from Friday night, and it paid off, with Nunnink rifling a shot into the bottom left corner of the goal off a nice touch pass from midfielder Lily Posternak.

Bourne waited until the second half to make her mark, but it couldn’t have come at a better time. 

The third quarter was winding down with Wake Forest still hanging in the game, until the England native took control.

Bourne weaved her way down the whole field and drew a penalty shot that she drove into the upper left corner of the net, effectively quelling any hope the Demon Deacons (2-6, 1-3) had.

Bourne said she was nervous during her penalty stroke, considering Wake Forest goalkeeper Tori Glaister is a friend of hers from her time playing on the England U18 team. Glaister knows Bourne likes to bury her penalty shots in the upper left corner, but the star freshman was able to fire it in anyway, giving the Blue Devils the cushion they needed.

“To start really opening up the goal scoring column with different players on the team just makes us more dangerous to defend,” Bustin said. 

As impressive as the offense was, Duke also held Wake Forest to only one shot on goal, which is a season-best for the Blue Devils and is especially encouraging for a team that has struggled in that category all year. 

No one could be more grateful for the relentless defense than goalkeeper Piper Hampsch. The freshman only had to make one save throughout the afternoon, but added in several nice defensive plays as well that won’t go down in the stat book.

Overall, it was a relatively clean game on both sides, as each team only had one green card each, but the Demon Deacons were unable to take advantage of the opponent's penalty like the Blue Devils did—Bourne’s goal came while Wake Forest midfielder Laia Vancells was serving her green card penalty.

After showing the resilience to recover from a nail-biter Friday, Duke is a team that could be getting hot at the right time. Senior leader Lexi Davidson scored Friday and has been a beacon of consistency for younger players to look up to. Bourne, meanwhile, put up five shots that game as well and continues to play at a level of maturity well beyond her age. 

“[Libby Thompson] said, ‘We’re on a rollercoaster that only goes up’,” Bourne said.

The Blue Devils now turn their focus toward their regular-season finale against Virginia this Saturday, in which they'll attempt to notch their first conference win of the season, as the second game against Wake Forest only counted as a nonconference matchup.

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