Look for Rhian's blog every week during the season on GoDuke.com
Jones Blog #5 (October 20, 2011)
Sunday was the perfect story line. We were taking on the number one team in the country, Old Dominion, on their home turf. They were undefeated on the season, entering the game with a perfect 15-0 record. On Friday, the Lady Monarchs had snapped Maryland's 39-game winning streak at home. ODU was not just winning -- they were winning big and against the best. They boasted one of the toughest schedules in the country and an average of nearly four goals scored per game. But after 70 minutes and 29 seconds of play, it was the seventh-ranked Blue Devils who were smiling and screaming and hugging after junior Mary Nielsen knocked the ball into the cage. It was the perfect underdog victory story, the classic fairytale of sports stories!! It was proof that Duke field hockey is a top team in the country!!
Well, not quite. At the risk of becoming the Debbie Downer of sports, I will reveal a secret to the world. Sunday didn't prove anything to us that we did not already know. It was not an 'upset' or a crowning moment. For us, Sunday was about playing field hockey against an opponent the same way we had the day before, and for weeks before that. Every match is an opportunity to perfect our style of play, whether it is against a team who has won every game or lost every game. At the end of the day we enter each game as Duke, not as a favorite or an underdog. It is never about our team relative to the opponent. (I apologize to the cultural anthropology department who may shake their heads as I reject the theories of relativism). We were thrilled with the victory on Sunday and grateful for the chance to play a talented opponent, but it does not change the way we view or play Duke field hockey.
As we enter the next week of practice and take on Central Michigan on Sunday, the team remains stubbornly 'Duke-centric.' We will work on our corners, our attack, our team defense, our fitness -- but we will not look back or ahead or around us -- we will look where we have all season, at and within ourselves. Duke True! Come watch senior day on Sunday on East Campus at 1 p.m.