As the rain splashed on the new blue turf Sunday, Duke’s chance to win the game slipped away.
The 16th-ranked Blue Devils fell 2-1 to No. 21 William & Mary on Williams Field at Jack Katz Stadium, marking their first home loss of the season. It marked the third top-25 loss for Duke, which dropped another lead after being up 1-0 at halftime.
"Just frustration," head coach Pam Bustin said after the game. "Congratulations, William & Mary, they're off to a great start this season. They're a solid team, great team. And we knew that coming in, but we also created incredible opportunities and had tons of circle entries … the frustration builds that it's been a couple of games now where we haven't capitalized on those circle entries and those opportunities, and you have to score to win."
Over the course of the game, Duke (3-3) had a 17-6 advantage in shots taken but did not match the Tribe’s ability to convert. William & Mary’s two goals were both in the third quarter to take the lead. The first goal came five minutes after the start of the second half, after the team quickly moved the ball in transition. As William & Mary midfielder Lauren Curran edged closer to the goal, Duke goalie Piper Hampsch came forward, leaving Curran space to tie the game up 1-1.
The Tribe (5-1) seemed energized after their first goal. Toward the end of the third quarter, William & Mary got an opportunity for a penalty corner. The ball was sent in by Pyper Friedman and junior midfielder Allison Goodwin ultimately made the deciding goal to put the visiting side up 2-1 for good.
The Blue Devils started to play from behind from that point and were unable to equalize the score by the end of the game. Duke did get a few penalty corners in the final minutes, leading William & Mary 7-6 in that category throughout the game. With two minutes remaining in the game, Hannah Miller inserted the ball and passed around until it was apparently scored by sophomore Kira Curland. After video review, however, Curland’s goal was overturned because she had used the wrong side of the stick. With 10 seconds left in the game, Miller inserted another penalty corner opportunity but sophomore midfielder Logan Clouser’s shot was wide left.
"There was a lot of just eyes on the ball and not trying to be strategic in how we're going to capitalize on opportunities … we have to be mindful," Bustin said about Duke's missed chances.
Sunday’s game seemed like a tale of two halves—Duke was much stronger at the start of the game. The Blue Devils were aggressive on defense, pressuring William & Mary with a shot advantage of 4-2 during the first 30 minutes. The Blue Devils scored the first goal nearly 10 minutes into the first period when Clouser took the ball away from William & Mary and streaked toward the cage. Clouser beat Tribe goalie Maddie George for an unassisted goal to give the Blue Devils the 1-0 lead. No other player scored from then until the third quarter, changing the entire look of the game.
"I think it just caught up with us … not being mindful," Bustin said. "We turned the ball over in critical moments. On set pieces, we didn't execute very simple skills."
While Duke lost Sunday, it did open its first game on its blue turf Friday with a win, beating Appalachian State 2-1. The Blue Devils controlled the game, outshooting the Mountaineers (3-2) 18-4. Louisville transfer Charlie van Oirschot had a big game, assisting Miller for the first goal of the evening. After Louisville equalized in the third quarter, Van Oirschot scored the ultimate goal in overtime after Miller beat Appalachian State goaltender Addie Clark. It marked a win for Duke in its first home game of the season and prevented it from dropping below the .500 mark.
Duke had a major weekend opening on the new blue turf, the first of its kind in the nation, and debuting a remodeled Jim Sabiston Fieldhouse. The fieldhouse, introduced before Sunday's game, added another 1,088 square feet to the back, complete with a new locker room and custom lockers in a more spacious area.
"It's been an incredible weekend," Bustin said. "The weekend of opening up this turf, the weekend of the ribbon cutting for the Jim Sabiston Fieldhouse and having Susan Sabiston and her daughter Kristen here and all the alums who came back as well as all the parents who supported us—in that regard it was an incredible special weekend. It was a fantastic feeling given to the kids and the program."
A new turf may not be a magic elixir for Duke on the field, but it can be an inspiration as the season continues. The Blue Devils will play on the road again at Syracuse Friday at 1 p.m.
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