EVANSTON, Ill. — Sixty minutes of stalwart defensive play propelled third-ranked Duke field hockey to a 1-0 shutout of No. 2 Maryland Sunday at the B1G/ACC Cup. Duke wrapped up the weekend in Evanston unbeaten at the annual event for the fourth time in the last five seasons.
Redshirt senior goalkeeper Sammi Steele tallied four saves and senior back Jillian Wolgemuth added a second-half defensive save as Duke held the Terrapins scoreless on nine shots and two penalty corners. The shutout marked the second of the 2019 campaign for the Blue Devils, who moved to 4-0 on the season.
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"Coming up and playing on a Sunday morning with an opportunity like we had today against a great Maryland team was excellent motivation," said head coach Pam Bustin. "Our individual defense has been phenomenal. However, in addition to the great individual defense, we're playing great team defense where we're helping each other out, we're double teaming … That's been really helpful. And of course, Sammi's leadership and just demeanor and confidence in the back, that's irreplaceable. That's something you get in a fifth-year goalkeeper who's had the experience and is as talented as Sammi Steele."
After falling behind early in Friday's 2-1 double overtime victory against 15th-ranked Northwestern, it was the Blue Devils who gained the upper hand in the opening minutes of Sunday's contest. Duke drew a penalty corner opportunity in the 13th minute and took the lead on the play when Margaux Paolino deflected in a hit by Haley Schleicher for her first goal of the season.
Led by Wolgemuth, who was tabbed the ACC Defensive Player of the Week Tuesday, the Blue Devil defense fought off Maryland advances inside the circle in the second quarter. The effort preserved the 1-0 advantage heading into halftime. Shots were 6-2 in Duke's favor at the break.
Still leading 1-0 heading into the fourth quarter, the Blue Devils neutralized attacking threats by the Terrapins and weathered a five-minute span down a player due to a yellow card. Duke ran out the clock to wrap up the team's performance at the tournament with two victories over top-15 Big Ten opponents.
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"We always have a really close, really tough game with Maryland," Steele said. "It always feels good to come away with a shutout against a good team. I'm just really proud of our defense. I thought we played really well today."
The Terrapins led in shots for the contest, 9-8, and both teams drew two penalty corners each. Maryland goalkeeper Noelle Frost totaled five saves in the loss.
"We're fortunate to be in a tournament so early in the season that showcases such great competition and such a high level of hockey," Bustin said.
Up next, Duke embarks on another road trip, traveling to Iowa City next weekend for a pair of non-conference matchups. The Blue Devils will take on California Saturday at 3 p.m. ET before facing another Big Ten opponent in Iowa Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.