DURHAM, N.C. – A Margaux Paolino goal less than three minutes into overtime sent the third-ranked Blue Devils past 23rd-ranked Liberty by a 4-3 score Sunday at Williams Field at Jack Katz Stadium.
The two squads needed extra time for the second straight meeting, with Paolino putting home a backhand shot off a Tessa Gote feed. The Blue Devils generated the fast break opportunity just minutes into the overtime period to round out their opening weekend of the season at 2-0.
“I’m really proud of them for sticking with it,” said head coach Pam Bustin, who registered her 100th victory at Duke with the result Sunday. “We’ve been practicing to try to prepare for this. With our level of scheduling and opponents, we’re going to see overtimes and we’re going to see ourselves facing those situations after hot conditions like today. I’m really proud of the way they stepped on the overtime field and just got it done.”
Much like in Friday’s season-opening win over William & Mary, Duke wasted no time getting on the board. Senior Caroline Andretta finished on a feed from classmate Erin Scherrer on the right side of the circle less than six minutes in, notching her second goal in as many games.
The Flames answered a short time later on a penalty corner opportunity, but Duke goalkeeper Sammi Steele and the Blue Devils’ defensive penalty corner unit held strong on additional corner attempts later in the half. Duke used the momentum to push forward for two quick tallies before the intermission. Freshman Olivia Sahaydak recorded her first goal in a Blue Devil uniform on a Lexi Davidson assist and junior Haley Schleicher made it 3-1 on a penalty corner opportunity less than two minutes later, with senior midfielder Morgan Bitting providing the assist.
In the second half, Liberty received a diving goal from Agueda Moroni and a tip-in by Lizzie Hamlett to knot up the contest with 11 minutes remaining. Neither side broke through before the end of regulation to force overtime.
A yellow card issued to Liberty’s Jill Bolton early in overtime provided Duke with an advantage, and Paolino and Gote capitalized on a fast break.
“We were transferring the ball very well in OT and trying to maintain possession,” Paolino said. “Rose [Tynan] cutting through opened it up for Tessa to get me that ball and just took the shot on goal, and luckily it went in … It always feels good to get a goal, but especially an OT winner.”
The teams combined for 18 penalty corners on the afternoon, with the Blue Devils drawing nine of their 10 opportunities in the second half. Duke also held the edge in shots, 26-10, and received five saves from Steele. Allison Schaefer of the Flames made 11 stops in 73 minutes of action.
“Liberty gave us a great challenge, as they always do,” Bustin said. “They have a real special player in [Moroni] and they have a great team behind her. But if we could manage some of the set pieces, we knew we could give them a good game. Unfortunately the set pieces are what got us. We’ll look back as to why we conceded as many as we did at the beginning of the second half. We did a good job fixing it towards the end of the second half, and converting on ours now in critical moments is going to be the next step.”
Next for the Blue Devils is a trip to College Park, Md., to take part in the B1G/ACC Cup. The squad faces No. 12 Northwestern Friday at 4 p.m. before tackling a top-five matchup with No. 4 Maryland next Sunday at 2 p.m. Both contests will be streamed on BTN2Go.
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- Sunday's victory marked head coach Pam Bustin's 100th at Duke. She is 100-48 in eight seasons at the helm of the program and 262-176 for her coaching career.
- Duke racked up eight goals in its first two contests of the 2018 campaign, with those tallies coming off of the sticks of seven different players.
- Duke and Liberty repeated the score of last year’s meeting between the squads. Rose Tynan provided the overtime game winner in that meeting Oct. 22, 2017 in Lynchburg, Va.