LANCASTER, Pa. – The Duke field hockey team went unbeaten at the B1G/ACC Cup for a third consecutive season with a 1-0 defeat of No. 14 Northwestern Sunday at Spooky Nook Sports, the home of USA Field Hockey.
Following a 2-0 shutout of No. 6 Maryland Friday night, the second-ranked Blue Devils rounded out the weekend with a pair of victories over ranked Big Ten teams to improve to 3-0 on the fall. Under the guidance of head coach Pam Bustin, the Duke program has posted three straight shutouts to start the year for the first time since 1991.
“We came in excited to play and we knew the style of hockey that Northwestern played,” Bustin said. “I thought we did a decent job managing it the first half, but we didn’t really get into our own rhythm as much as we wanted to – part of it because of our opponent but a lot of it due to just us coming out today. At halftime we addressed it but it still sort of stung the second half. Northwestern started gaining more confidence and gaining momentum. We managed it to come away with the win, but it’s a great lesson for our team and one at this point in the season that we’re going to really take to heart.”
Junior Erin Scherrer broke open the scoring 14 minutes in, chipping a rebound off the Northwestern goalkeeper’s pads into the back of the cage. Defensively, the Blue Devils limited the Wildcats to just two shots in the opening 27 minutes, with redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Sammi Steele notching one save.
Backed by the solid defensive effort, Duke would take the 1-0 lead into the intermission.
The Blue Devils weathered three Northwestern corners early in the second period and two more midway through the half. The Wildcats would go on to generate a couple more offensive opportunities and pulled their keeper from the cage with just under three minutes remaining, but the 1-0 score would hold up through the end of regulation.
“It’s the first time we were really as challenged as we were defensively, especially with so many corners,” Bustin said. “Our corner unit did an exceptional job keeping their composure and reading the corners.”
Steele tallied a season-high six saves in the shutout. Corners were even for the contest at six apiece with all of Northwestern’s corner opportunities coming in the second half. Duke led the overall shot margin, 16-13.
The Blue Devils return to action Friday at 5 p.m., opening ACC play at Virginia before traveling to James Madison next Sunday.