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Duke field hockey wins big against Colgate, falls to Syracuse during weekend road trip

The Blue Devils managed another 1-1 weekend in Upstate New York.
The Blue Devils managed another 1-1 weekend in Upstate New York.

Life is 10 percent what happens and 90 percent how you react. That perfectly sums up Duke’s weekend on the road. 

No. 18 Duke lost in its match against No. 10 Syracuse 5-1 Friday night, adding to Duke’s struggles against the Orange over the past 14 matchups. Syracuse eliminated Duke last year in the ACC quarterfinals, beating the Blue Devils by the same score. Duke came back from the loss with a sense of urgency against Colgate on Sunday. The Blue Devils dominated the Raiders for a 10-1 victory. The 10 scores were the most Duke has produced since 2012, but head coach Pam Bustin was proud of more than just the scoreboard.

“I'm really proud of the response today,” Bustin said after the win. “Even despite scoring differences that we have with our opponent, I was more impressed with coming out and really working on the discipline as staying to our standards and playing our game from the start to the end.”

The Blue Devils (4-4, 0-1 in the ACC) continued to acquire penalty corners, but recently had trouble capitalizing off of them. This time, however, Duke was steadfast in taking advantage of those opportunities. Four minutes into the game, freshman midfielder Macy Szukics inserted the penalty corner to junior midfielder Charlotte van Oirschot who registered the first goal. Duke would not be satisfied: The Blue Devils scored three goals within the first six minutes of the game and led 4-0 after the first quarter. This set the tone for the rest of the game, with Colgate’s lone goal coming in the final two minutes of the game.

"Some of the goals today and the corners were clinically executed the way they should be," Bustin said. "... We're not satisfied, totally yet. We're going to continue to build on it but we're happy that it was there today for us.”

Duke’s victory against Colgate (2-6) was different because it was the first win this season without having to go to the overtime period. The Blue Devils' first two wins against Rutgers and St. Joseph’s were decided in a second overtime. After multiple single-goal victories, Duke demonstrated on Sunday that they can put up a dominant effort from the start.

“We’ve just been really working towards this opportunity where if we can come out on the front foot and we can keep it going for the full period that we're going to put balls in the goal cage and we did that today," Bustin said.

In addition to bringing a high-powered offense, Duke’s defense stifled Colgate Sunday. The Blue Devils kept the Raiders from attempting a shot or penalty corner in the first half, also helping the goalies out by keeping the ball from entering the scoring circle. These defensive efforts were integral to the dominant win but were not enough in Duke's loss against Syracuse.

Duke and its opponent had approximately the same number of shots and penalty corners Friday, but Syracuse (7-1, 1-0) was better at converting. The Blue Devils had their hands full against the second-ranked offense in the nation, as Syracuse scored five unanswered goals in the first three quarters before sophomore midfielder Josephine Palde scored Duke’s first goal. 

The Blue Devils have shown a willingness to learn from their mistakes and showed improvement in its discipline on both ends against Colgate. 

“Next weekend's a great challenge for us,” Bustin said. “It’s going to be a great weekend of high level hockey. So we have to be prepared and we have to be ready to go to battle with our standards.”

Duke needs the same resolve and energy that went into Sunday’s win to stick around for the Blue Devils to climb back to a winning record. Blue Devils' have now earned three-straight .500 weekends as they look to build some momentum in the ACC standings.

Duke next faces Boston College at 6 p.m. Friday.

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