With the Durham sun beating down Sunday afternoon, the crowd was getting hot and anxious as the Blue Devils were locked in a heated overtime battle against Liberty.
After three consecutive failed penalty corners in early overtime, junior midfielder Logan Clouser wasn’t done. After her corner shot was blocked and the Flames began their offensive attack, Clouser sprinted back 50 yards to regain Duke possession, setting up sophomore Alaina McVeigh to score the winning goal.
After a strong 9-0 win against Longwood on Friday, the 13th-ranked Blue Devils sealed their 2-1 win against No. 9 Liberty with 48 seconds left in the first overtime period. After sophomore Brynn Crouse broke the 0-0 tie in the fourth quarter, Liberty was quick to respond just five minutes later, tying the game 1-1 and sending it to overtime. After Clouser’s quick recovery and reaction, McVeigh was able to score her sixth goal of the season and give Duke the win.
“I saw an open space on the side on the baselines, decided to go for it and try to shoot the ball. That’s all I had,” McVeigh said about the winning goal. While a sophomore, McVeigh did not play as a freshman due to injury. After returning, she has scored in every single game this season, including two against Longwood on Friday.
“I’m just really proud of how the team played today,” McVeigh said. “We never stopped all working together and believing we could win that game. It was a full team effort and I’m proud of everyone for giving it their all.”
Despite the shutout against the Lancers, Duke head coach Pam Bustin said she focused on the discipline of her team’s defense ahead of the matchup with Liberty.
“We’ve just been continuing to build our discipline and patience, not getting impatient with our team…” Bustin said after the game Sunday. “We focused on that greatly Friday night in the second half, because I wasn’t happy with it in the first half, and I’m so happy that they were able to bring it into today’s match at this higher pace.”
The focus paid off as the Blue Devils (4-1) held the Flames to only seven shots with five on goal. Allowing only one goal the entire weekend, senior Piper Hampsch recorded six saves through the two games, pushing her to 219 in her Duke career — only 19 saves away from the No. 8 spot in program history.
While McVeigh got the winning goal and Clouser made that possible, it was truly a team effort on Sunday as the Blue Devils all chipped in to keep up with the fast-paced game throughout the humid afternoon.
“At some point, everybody had to step up and bring us something because it was a long, really high-paced game,” Bustin said. “With players going out, others had to step up and raise the bar.”
The Blue Devils have now beaten two top-10 teams this season with wins against then-No. 3 Maryland and Liberty. This is the first time Duke has had multiple top-10 wins since the 2019 season.
“This level of playing competition, we have to find the fight in us individually and as a team, for every single game,” Bustin said. “Longwood wasn’t ranked but we had to come out and play our game or else we’re just missing opportunities to get better.”
The Blue Devils certainly have the opportunity to keep growing as they face strong competitors in the coming weeks, especially against No. 5 Louisville, two dates with No. 6 Virginia and a regular-season finale against No. 2 North Carolina.
“We just want to get better every day,” Bustin said about the coming competition. “We’re a better team right now in that locker room than we were at the start of the game, and we’re going to continue to try to improve that for Friday night.”
Duke will face Syracuse at home Friday at 6 p.m.
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