On a crisp, clear night in Durham, Louisville arrived in a team bus parked outside Williams Field at Jack Katz stadium. And when it rolled away as the sun fell beyond the horizon, the Cardinals walked off Duke’s campus with a win.
No. 4 Louisville struck early off a penalty corner and played lockdown defense on the back end to blank the 18th-ranked Blue Devils by a final of 1-0, gaining their eight win of the fall campaign as a frustrated Duke team couldn’t find the back of the cage. The Cardinals dominated nearly every aspect of the contest Friday evening, with the edge in corners, shots and overall game control going to the visitors.
Louisville didn’t take long to strike after arriving in Durham. Not even the hours-long bus ride could stymie the Cardinals, with junior Julie Kouijzer netting the first tally of the game on a penalty corner with 11:58 to play in the first quarter. The first mistake by the Duke backline, Kouijzer made no mistake off a pretty pass from the corner off the stick of Alli Bitting.
“I just think that’s mentally not being 100% as sharp as we need to be to start a game,” head coach Pam Bustin said. “Especially a game [like the one’s] we’ve had the rest of our season.”
But Duke (3-5, 0-2 in the ACC) was not to be bested in the first five minutes, coming back with a flurry of attacks on the Cardinal end. Staunch play by the backline of Louisville (8-1, 2-0) kept the ball from hitting twine, and the Blue Devils held a one goal deficit headed into the locker room after thirty minutes of play.
And Louisville certainly kept the attack up in the second half, possessing much of the ball in the final 30 minutes of play. With under seven minutes to go in the last frame, goalie Piper Hamsch thrust out her right leg, making perhaps the save of the game off a threatening penalty corner. Duke countered with a three-on-two rush, but an incisive past proved just too strong for the Blue Devils’ lunging attacker.
And Hampsch wasn’t done, producing a carbon copy save off yet another penalty corner with under three minutes to play that saw Duke charge up the field—again to no avail.
“I was really pleased in how she became more aggressive, and not in a reckless way, but strong…. She was on the ball early,” Bustin said of Hampsch's play.
Louisville earned a corner off a green card with 7:15 to go in the third quarter after a hard-nosed play from Duke defender Caroline Hanan saw a Cardinal tumble to the turf. A tough bounce off a defender on the first attempt saw the Cardinals get a second chance, but a booming pad save from Hampsch kept the Blue Devils deficit at one.
The Cardinals were more than happy to run the clock down, with every Duke rush stopped cold almost before it could start. In the instances the Blue Devils did find themselves within the semicircle, shots bounced harmlessly off defenders sticks and passes were intercepted. Louisville failed to possess the ball for more than a few minutes in the attacking half, but they didn’t need to—they had the edge, and they kept it.
“We need to start right from the get go, [with] 100% energy intensity right from the start and carry that through the fourth quarter,” junior forward Hannah Miller said.
Duke’s best chance of the game came with time winding down in the third frame, earning a penalty corner after brute-forcing their way into the semicircle. Midfielder Lily Posternak sent a perfect pass to the stick of Eva Nunnink, and Nunnink fired off a blistering shot that found nothing but twine. Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, the signature thud of the wood on the bottom of the cage was not heard, disallowing the pinpoint shot from nearly 20 feet out.
Hampsch kept the Blue Devils in the contest for the duration, having one of her better games of the fall slate as she recorded seven total saves and only allowed one to find the back of the net. Her pad seemed to always find the ball and send it on its way, despite the visitors registering seven corners by the time the final horn sounded.
“We have got to keep this [second half] energy level… and when we do, things happen,” Bustin said. “We’re at a tipping point, it's coming…and we cannot come down off that pressure. We have to keep pushing forward.”
Duke is back on the field again Sunday at William and Mary.
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