No. 5 Duke field hockey sweeps weekend series against Boston College, Harvard to preserve winning run

Kira Curland scored one of Duke's three goals against Harvard.
Kira Curland scored one of Duke's three goals against Harvard.

It went on for a while.

On a cloudy Sunday afternoon in Cambridge, Mass., the 15th-ranked Crimson welcomed the fifth-ranked Blue Devils to Berylson Family Field for a long day of field hockey. After another six-period game, Duke extended its win streak to six with a 3-2 victory that was, in true Blue Devil style, a defensive battle. The victory against Harvard followed a similar one against Boston College Friday night.

“Coming away with two wins is a really big deal and a fantastic accomplishment for our team,” said head coach Pam Bustin on Monday.

For most of the game, Duke (8-1, 2-0 in the ACC) was one step ahead; Blue Devil goals tallied on the scoreboard before Crimson ones did. Harvard (5-3, 2-0 in the Ivy League), however, always answered — so that the game’s last minutes were a frantic fight to break a sudden 2-2 tie. 

It went by quarter: Duke in the first, Harvard in the second and over again in the second half. Nobody was able to break that pattern in the final countdown, so a match that was already running an hour late now stretched into overtime. And then into second overtime.

By the sixth period, Duke was ready to shut things down. Just like in the first quarter, it took less than a minute for the Blue Devils to put the ball away, and the fans finally heard the whistle call the match.

That whistle blow came — like all of Duke’s goals — from an opportunity presented by a penalty corner. The team lined up, and sophomore midfielder Alaina McVeigh took control of the ball. She launched it upwards and watched it sink into the back corner of the net. Duke’s winning streak was saved.

Although she’s a sophomore, McVeigh redshirted her freshman year due to injury. “Coming off the injury the way she has, I think she's actually even stronger and in some ways, smarter in understanding the game,” Bustin said. “She's only getting started but her starting point is pretty darn good.”

Despite a devilish duration, things got going quickly for Duke Sunday. Graduate forward Hannah Miller wasted no time in assisting an early Blue Devil goal. Less than a minute into the match, the Malvern, Pa., native combined with junior midfielder Logan Clouser, who slotted the ball home on a deflection. Miller’s two assists set up both of the goals that earned Duke a victory Friday night against Boston College as well — starting the Blue Devils’ tour of Massachusetts off right.

“We’ve called her the engine of our team,” Bustin said of Miller. “She's always been the one to really bring the energy and to up the pace of the game … Her ability to press and her defensive skills are fantastic. And then her ability to penetrate the defense of the opponent and create corner opportunities for us is awesome.”

The energizing start was quickly compromised. Halfway through the first quarter, an injury to the referee put the match on hold for an hour. Duke and Harvard picked up their sticks again at 1:30 — now under a light drizzle of cold Cambridge rain.

With the game’s feng shui now off-kilter, it was Harvard’s turn to take control. The Crimson equalized in the middle of quarter two, also off a penalty corner. Crimson-clad Bronte-May Brough landed a straight shot from far out to put her team back in the winning conversation and fire the Blue Devils up.

A penalty corner in the third quarter meant Duke’s second goal, this time delivered by junior midfielder Kira Curland, who took the ball off a rebound from a Harvard save and sent it flying into the right side of the net.

This far into the game, Blue Devils and Crimson were similarly stuck without penalty corners. Low scoreboard numbers reflect the deep defensive power of these two teams, which have both averaged one allowed goal per game all season. Harvard’s two losses — to Liberty and Virginia, respectively — were both by just one point in games that didn’t see more than three total goals. For Duke, defensive efforts are headlined by senior goalkeeper Piper Hampsch, who showcased her fiercest net protection at Boston College, where she tallied three saves, true to her name as NFHCA Defensive Player of the Week.

“She's committed to our team goals and to this program,” Bustin said. “She has put in the work to make her the goalkeeper she is today.”

Harvard, however, went on to one-up Hampsch, earning its second goal without a penalty advantage by sending it straight through the Duke goalie’s legs. Lucy Leel led that Crimson effort, outrunning defensive efforts and demanding that the game stretch into a fifth period. It was thanks to McVeigh that her efforts were in vain.

Friday night, over in Chestnut Hill, the Blue Devils took down the Eagles 2-1 in a tense affair that, just like this game, ran into second overtime. McVeigh put the Blue Devils on the board in the third quarter before Kira Curland sealed the Duke deal with a shot off a penalty corner as the clock ran past minute 73. The greater Boston area did not let Duke get away with these wins easily.

“They're definitely not getting easier,” Bustin said. “I think [matches] only get harder as you get going … So it's great for us to build momentum and to build our confidence in the kind of game that we're playing. But we also have to be ready to face opponents that are bringing much more to the table because of their expectations.”

The Blue Devils will return home for their next game, where they will look to stretch their winning streak against a Southern opponent — Wake Forest — Friday at 6 p.m.

Sophie Levenson profile
Sophie Levenson | Sports Managing Editor

Sophie Levenson is a Trinity sophomore and a sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 120th volume.


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