Missed opportunities have been the story of Duke field hockey’s season thus far.
The 25th-ranked Blue Devils fell to No. 14 Wake Forest 3-0 on the road Sunday afternoon at Kentner Stadium. After being down 2-0 at halftime, Duke outshot Wake Forest in both the third and fourth quarters but was unable to convert on those advantages. The Demon Deacons ultimately recorded their first ACC win in their second conference outing. Meanwhile, it was the Blue Devils’ third ACC matchup this season—and its third-straight loss
“I think that's the story of every game we've played so far, where, yeah, we are creating things. We're in every game as far as the competitive nature of the game. It's the final finishing moments,” Bustin said after the game. “It comes again, back to the discipline of being mindful and how to either finish it to put the ball in the cage, or how to just lock down as a unit to keep it out of the cage.”
Duke’s defense was very strong, allowing only one penalty corner throughout the entire game. However, Wake Forest (8-3, 1-1 in the ACC) was able to capitalize on the few opportunities it had. The Demon Deacons had a strong showing in the second quarter, with junior midfielder Grace Delmotte and freshman forward/midfielder Rachel Thetford scoring a goal each behind solid assists and teamwide effort. While Duke (4-7, 0-3) kept Wake Forest on its toes for the majority of the game, it was futile, as the Demon Deacons notched their third goal in the fourth quarter. They capitalized on their sole penalty corner, with Delmotte and senior midfielder Meike Lanckohr assisting senior forward Maggie Dickman for the 3-0 lead.
However, Duke would not let up. It outshot Wake Forest 6-1 in the fourth quarter. In the 51st minute, senior forward Hannah Miller inserted the penalty corner but the following shots by sophomore forward Issy Carey and senior midfielder Kelsey Reznick were blocked. Two minutes later, Miller inserted another penalty corner but senior midfielder Mary Harkins had her shot kicked away by Wake Forest goalie Ellie Todd. With time running out, Duke saw its luck also running out, and it couldn’t make the game more competitive. At the end of the day, although the Blue Devils were more dominant, the Demon Deacons were patient enough to convert on the only opportunities they got.
"I thought we dominated play in the fourth quarter. We had the ball the whole time. They only had one circle entry in the fourth quarter, and they get the corner,” Bustin said. “We're playing some good hockey, we just have to be more disciplined and organized on both ends of the field, in front of both goal cages. That is a mindset and that is a training that we're just going to continue to do. We have the people to do it, we just have to continue the training."
Following Duke’s loss to Wake Forest, it was supposed to play at Old Dominion Tuesday but the game was canceled due to weather. The Blue Devils now have extra rest before they face Virginia at home and Richmond on the road this weekend. The Cavaliers are another ACC rival and could be an opportunity for Duke to land its first ACC win. To do that, as Bustin emphasized, the Blue Devils need to exercise patience as they learn from experiences like Sunday’s game and become a stronger team in the process.
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