It was the kind of ending that sophomore Hannah Miller will never forget.
After still being tied after two overtime periods Saturday afternoon, No. 15 Duke and No. 3 Louisville went into a shootout at Jack Katz Stadium, and Miller decided it was time to end the contest. She dribbled the ball toward the left side of the goal, but instead of flicking a backhander, Miller busted out a 360 spin and rifled the shot into the net to win the game 4-3.
“It was amazing,” head coach Pam Bustin said. “I think the way we’ve been competing lately and the way that we’ve been really putting ourselves under pressure at practice, at some point it was gonna turn that way and we took it to the wire and I’m really proud of the team for staying so engaged and staying so on task with what they had to do to earn that win today.”
The frenzy of celebration that erupted in the ensuing seconds after the game-winning goal was all the more rewarding, considering the Blue Devils (4-11, 2-3 in the ACC) have fallen on the wrong side of five of their earlier overtime games this season. Miller's triumphant fist pump seemed to signify the culmination of a year's worth of hard work.
“We have a young team as far as that’s concerned,” Bustin said in reference to the other overtimes losses. “Many of them haven't experienced this over time and our leadership is still developing and we just kept working on it. We practiced it, we watched video. You just try to get better at different game scenarios and try to increase our hockey IQ.”
One of the Blue Devils who exemplifies exactly the kind of growth Bustin is speaking of is freshman goalkeeper Piper Hampsch. To start off the fall season, the Hopedale, Mass., native had a string of games with a sub .600 save percentage, but slowly started to find her way and eventually recorded two shutouts by the end of the fall.
As the calendar continued on to spring, Hampsch continued to improve, with her two season-defining moments coming April 2—with her 19 saves against North Carolina—and Saturday against Louisville (12-5, 2-3)—with her seven saves in regulation and overtime and game-saving stops in the shootout.
“[Hampsch] does continue to develop,” Bustin said. “I just was joking with her that her heart rate is like zero. It’s so low. She’s got a good open mind about what she’s gotta do and she just stays present in it and I think that is one of her strongest qualities.”
Hampsch’s composure under pressure was in full light Saturday. Although Miller may get all the glory for actually delivering the game-winning goal, it was Hampsch’s acrobatic save against Mercedes Pastor’s shootout attempt that set Miller up to seal the deal.
Pastor had already bested Hampsch earlier in the shootout, but on her second attempt, Hampsch would not be fooled again. As Pastor approached the goal, Hampsch pressured the Louisville forward, forcing an errant shot.
While Hampsch and a slew of other freshmen have been the key story of the 2020-21 season, Saturday’s victory would not have been possible without the veteran presences of Noor van de Laar, Libby Thompson and Eva Nunnink, who each tallied a goal.
The Blue Devils only have one regular season game left against Boston College this upcoming Saturday, and are still very much in play for an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament.
Get Overtime, all Duke athletics
Signup for our editorially curated, weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.
And while the future may be unclear, Bustin has plans for how to use this game for the future.
“We’re not done. This process is continuing. This is about the long game for us so there are still things that we’ve got to look at, evaluate and get better from today.”
Jake Piazza is a Trinity junior and sports editor of The Chronicle's 117th volume.