DURHAM, N.C. – A goal by senior forward McKay Ross in the 62nd minute proved to be the difference Friday evening as the ninth-ranked Duke field hockey squad topped William & Mary 2-1 in non-conference action at Williams Field at Jack Katz Stadium. Ross’ late score broke a 1-1 tie, sending the Blue Devils to 4-1 on the fall and 3-0 in home contests.
Duke outshot its opponent for the second consecutive game, posting 15 shots to the Tribe’s six. The Blue Devils also led in shots on goal by a 9-5 margin, while each side earned four penalty corners.
“We had good control of the game and good pace of the game – we just weren’t clean with it,” said head coach Pam Bustin. “But after [Ross’] goal, it gave them the confidence that we can put it in and we are putting the pressure on them. We just need to take care of the ball, keep possession and protect the center.”
Both teams had penalty corner opportunities early in the match, but the two defenses – aided by solid goalkeeping performances on either end – responded in challenging fashion. Following four consecutive shots on goal, Duke broke through for a score in the 26th minute, as freshman Heather Morris notched her fourth goal of the season.
The 1-0 advantage in the Blue Devils’ favor would hold until the end of the half, with the home team leading in shots, 7-1, and corners, 2-1, at the break.
William & Mary’s Taylor Hodge fired the equalizer just six minutes into the second period, converting on a pass from Brittany Hopkins. However, Duke quickly regained momentum as the offensive unit continued to push the pace of the game. On the squad’s fourth penalty corner of the evening, a pair of Blue Devil shots glanced off the post before Ross reverse tipped in a touch from redshirt senior forward Devon Gagliardi. The goal in the 62nd minute was Ross’ first of the season, and also marked the first assist of the year for Gagliardi.
“Everyone just wanted to come out with some power,” Ross said. “I think we gained the momentum right after halftime to keep control in our half a good majority of the time. It paid off.”
Duke held off late scoring threats by the Tribe to close out the 2-1 victory. William & Mary dropped to 2-3 with the loss.
“We’ve been working really hard to connect the forwards and the midfielders,” Morris said. “We had a little bit of a rough day today, but I still felt really connected and I felt like we did a good job of just sticking with it.”
Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Lauren Blazing posted four saves in the win while Cate Johnson recorded seven saves for the Tribe.
The Blue Devils continue their weekend homestand Sunday, Sept. 15 when they host No. 15 Old Dominion at 1 p.m. The match will be streamed live on GoDuke.com Inside Access.