Duke won the weekend again, downing Syracuse on Friday and Old Dominion on Sunday in a pair of games that, while night-and-day, produced the same result: another win in its stellar resurgent season.
The ninth-ranked Blue Devils hosted the Monarchs on Sunday afternoon in a back-and-forth matchup that saw both teams’ offenses struggle to create momentum and breach the opposing defenses. Duke attempted to play the ball into its shooting circle several times, but a foot foul or a well-positioned Old Dominion defender would turn possession the other way before the ball could cross the goal line, resulting in a scoreless first half. With just more than three minutes to go in the third quarter, the Blue Devil offense finally executed and scored the only goal of the day, winning 1-0.
The opportunity came when sophomore midfielder Macy Szukics ripped a shot from the top of the circle off a corner service, but it was blocked by Monarch goalie Suus Broers. Luckily for Duke, sophomore Brynn Crouse was in perfect position to make a play on the ball as it ricocheted her way. From the left of the cage, Crouse swept the ball with her backhand and flicked it right over Broers head.
“Getting shots off was quite difficult. It was more like ‘be in a position to get a rebound, try to earn some corners, because then our numbers are in our favor…’ Brynn on the corner did a great job preparing for that rebound,” head coach Pam Bustin said.
It was a break that the Blue Devils (6-1, 1-0 in the ACC) needed after a paltry three shots in the first half. Their offensive production didn’t ramp up after the score however, as they finished the day with only seven shots total. They averaged more than 18 shots per game heading into Sunday.
“We didn’t come out as fiery and with as much energy as we should’ve today, so we’re all a bit disappointed in that, but it’s good to know that even on a type of day like this we can still grind out a win,” said senior goalie Piper Hampsch.
The low-scoring game Sunday paled in comparison to the 4-0 victory against No. 6 Syracuse on Friday. The Orange (6-1, 0-1) came into Durham undefeated with senior weapons Eefke van den Nieuwenhof and Pieke van de Pas, two players ranked in the top 12 in goals per game this season. If Duke was fazed by its impressive conference foe, it didn’t play like it. Senior captain Barb Civitella scored eight minutes in and the Blue Devils never looked back. In the second quarter, senior captain Charlie van Oirschot put away the rebound from a corner penalty shot, the same kind of play that enabled Duke to squeak past Old Dominion (2-5) two days later.
As the clock wound down, sophomore standout Alaina McVeigh decided to get in on the action. In the 54th minute, McVeigh ripped a SportsCenter top 10-worthy reverse shot from just inside the circle to the high left side of the net, out of the reach of Syracuse goalie Brooke Borzymowski. Five minutes later, McVeigh worked her magic again, splitting two defenders as she dribbled to the cage and slapped a shot to the back left corner of the net.
Duke held Syracuse to just six shots, well short of its 18-per-game average leading up to the match . It was its first time shutting out an ACC opponent since 2019 and Hampsch’s first solo shutout of the season.
“We were really hyped up obviously, ACC opponent. We wanted to come out strong, we’ve been sort of blanked by Syracuse in the past,” Hampsch said.
While they may have played two drastically different games this past weekend, the Blue Devils emerged with two important wins, proving that they can achieve success against all types of opponents, rivalry big or small.
“It was much more finesse on Friday, we were really trying to slice and dice around that team. And today, it was a bit more of a grunt game and trying to rely on our basics and rely on the strength and conditioning that we’ve done to get us through 60 minutes,” Hampsch said.
“We really appreciate when we can earn the win the way we did today, the way we did Friday,” Bustin added.
Duke looks to extend its four-game win streak this Friday in Chestnut Hill, Mass., against Boston College at 5 p.m.
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