DURHAM, N.C. – After surrendering a goal in the early minutes, second-ranked Duke rallied to top No. 11 Virginia, 3-2, Friday evening in the teams’ ACC opener at Williams Field at Jack Katz Stadium. The Blue Devils defeated their fourth consecutive ranked opponent to move to 5-0 on the season.
Head coach Pam Bustin’s squad generated 20 shots and a season-high 10 penalty corner opportunities while limiting a potent Virginia attack to just eight shots on the night.
“We expect anything from the competition as we get into the conference — it’s really tight and really strong,” Bustin said. “You just have to stay in the game. You’ve got 70 minutes to play so not to judge it one way or the other — whether we’re up by a goal or we’re down by a goal but just to stay on with the game plan and stay on task. The team really did that tonight.”
The Cavaliers’ Lucy Hyams broke open the scoring in the ninth minute, putting back a rebound off a corner play. Virginia (2-3, 0-1 ACC) continued to threaten on its attacking end before junior forward Ashley Kristen notched the equalizer on a Duke corner play. Freshman midfielder Margaux Paolinopicked up her team-leading seventh assist of the season, and the 1-1 tie would carry into halftime.
The Blue Devils led in shots, 12-4, at the break and totaled eight first-half corners.
“When we think attack sometimes, we just think about the front half of the field but we want to attack from the back all the way forward,” Bustin said. “Virginia put some great pressure on our backfield today, and I thought the team did a great job attacking out of the back. That set the tone and kept everybody involved for the attack all the way down at the other end of the field.”
Virginia caught Duke’s defense slightly out of position early in the second half, but an Alexa Mackintiredefensive save kept the match at 1-1. The Cavaliers’ Dominique van Slooten made a similar play on the other end but the Blue Devils used another set piece to take the lead at the 45:13 mark. Junior back Alyssa Chillano fired her fifth goal of the season while Ainsley Gill and Paolino provided the assists.
Penalty corner opportunities continued to be the difference, with Duke adding a third tally in the 49th minute when junior Stephanie Pezzuti tapped in a shot at the back post off of a rebound. Pezzuti made good on the Blue Devils’ fourth shot of the series following three saves by Virginia goalkeeper Carrera Lucas.
The Cavaliers countered on a penalty corner play just minutes later, narrowing the score to 3-2 on the Tara Vittese goal. Behind the play of goalkeeper Sammi Steele, Duke was able to keep Virginia off the board for the final 20 minutes to help the squad kick off ACC play 1-0.
“Today was just a really good team win,” said junior back Sarah Furey. “Sammi Steele played a great game and really kept them out their two key players … You get down to the wire, those last five minutes, you do everything you can to keep the ball out of the net. I think we were just doing it for each other. Everyone had some plays and hustle so it was great.”
Steele finished with two stops to a career-high 10 by Lucas, and freshman back Jillian Wolgemuthjoined Mackintire in recording defensive saves.