DURHAM, N.C. – The seventh-ranked Duke field hockey team battled No. 3 Syracuse to a 1-1 tie through the end of regulation and one overtime period before the Orange tallied the gamewinner in the 91st minute to top the Blue Devils in a battle of top-10 ACC teams Friday evening at Williams Field at Jack Katz Stadium.
Duke suffered its first overtime loss of the season in four extra-time matches to fall to 10-3 on the year and 2-1 in ACC play. Meanwhile Syracuse improved to 11-1 overall and 2-1 in conference action.
“We played against a talented, experienced team tonight that really challenged us to be a better team,” said head coach Pam Bustin. “We’ve got to pay attention to those areas that could change the game in our favor. But at the same time, I couldn’t ask for more of a team effort. I couldn’t ask for more of the individual efforts at the time that they were called on. It was a great game and just an unfortunate outcome.”
The Orange were aggressive on the offensive end in the early minutes, totaling 12 shots and three penalty corner opportunities in the first half. However the Blue Devils responded well to the fast pace of play, with redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Lauren Blazing and the defense neutralizing all three Syracuse penalty corner threats.
Duke’s best offensive opportunity of the first period came with less than four minutes remaining when junior forward Jessica Buttinger dove near the front of the cage to get her stick on a ball from midfielder Aileen Johnson. Graduate student midfielder Devon Gagliardi followed on the next possession with another shot from close range that went just wide. A flurry of activity at the other end of the field resulted in a goal by the Orange as Karlee Farr put in a rebound shot to give her team a 1-0 advantage heading into the intermission.
The two teams traded penalty corners to start the second half, but Blazing and Syracuse keeper Jess Jecko were there to make the stops. Senior defender Paula Heimbach recorded a key defensive save to prevent the Orange from going up by a 2-0 score.
Sophomore Hannah Barreca broke through on the Blue Devils’ fifth corner of the half, knocking in a goal on assists by senior Emmie Le Marchand and junior Abby Beltrani to knot the game at the 8:32 mark. Neither side scored the rest of the way in regulation, sending Duke to its fourth overtime game of the season.
The first overtime period saw players on both teams continue to make hard runs up and down the field. Le Marchand and Buttinger had breakaway chances for the Blue Devils and Syracuse answered by challenging Blazing on the other end, but the match remained locked at 1-1 to force a second overtime.
Syracuse’s Lauren Brooks touched in a pass from teammate Laura Hahnefeldt just over five minutes into the second overtime to claim the win for the Orange.
“We knew going into halftime we were down so I think we really stepped it up in the second half and had a lot of control,” Heimbach said. “I think we all knew what we had to do. It’s a lot of running and digging deep, but unfortunately we didn’t come out on top this time.”
Despite the loss, Blazing turned in a solid performance with 15 saves against 18 shots on goal. Syracuse outshot the Blue Devils 25-15 for the game and held a slight 7-6 advantage in penalty corners.
“We’re going to be up against highly-ranked teams for the rest of the season and we’re one ourselves,” Bustin said. “These are going to be the kind of games they are, and so our mentality has to be ‘we’ve got to show up for business.’ We’ve been doing that, but it’s going to be a challenge to do it every day.”
Duke resumes conference play next weekend, traveling to Charlottesville, Va., to take on Virginia Friday, Oct. 18 at 6 p.m.