DURHAM, N.C. - In a battle of top-five teams, the No. 4 Princeton Tigers came out on top, as the fifth-ranked Duke field hockey team dropped a 5-2 decision to the Tigers Friday evening at Williams Field at Jack Katz Stadium.
"We are going to see teams like this all season long, and quite frankly I think we are one of them," said head coach Pam Bustin. "We are going to keep getting better and stronger from this. We are still growing into who we are. These challenges, if we keep the proper mindset, will help us get better."
Duke received goals from juniors Brenna Rescigno and Emmie Le Marchand while Paula Heimbach and Mary Nielsen chipped in with one assist each. The Tigers were led by Kathleen Sharkey with three goals and an assist. Princeton utilized 14 penalty corner opportunities scoring on three.
Princeton took an early lead as Sharkey scored a goal off a penalty corner four minutes into the contest. The Blue Devils leveled the score in the 25th minute when Rescigno fired a low shot into the corner off a penalty corner assisted by Heimbach and Nielsen.
Princeton responded with a goal to go into the half with a 2-1 lead, and scored another goal ten minutes after halftime. Despite trailing 3-1, the Blue Devils battled back when Rescigno fired a low shot toward the corner only to be saved by Princeton's goalkeeper. Le Marchand showed no hesitation however, and quickly collected and put a rebound in the net to bring the score to 3-2 with 25 minutes remaining.
The Blue Devils continued to battle, however they came up short as the Tigers scored two more goals, and ended the game with a final score of 5-2.
"We had opportunities, but I think we are still growing into our attacking mindset, and growing into believing in our strength," said Bustin. "Obviously Princeton is a very talented team, and they picked and chose when to put the pressure on us."
Goalkeeper Laura Blazing ended the game with six saves, including an outstanding save with three minutes left in the first half when two Princeton Tigers had a breakaway.
"Princeton is really a great team. We came out tonight and did some good things," said junior Grace Christus. "There were some things we could have done better, but as a whole I think we are proud. We stuck in there, but it's really disappointing to drop five goals. The team gave away a lot of corners away, and a lot of shots. It is really important that we come together after this and dig deep for Sunday."
The Blue Devils will continue their season on Sunday against the Longwood Lancers in Farmville, Va. The game is slated to begin at 1 p.m. Duke leads the series with Longwood 14-3. The two teams last faced off on September 11, 2011 when Duke claimed a 1-0 victory with a late penalty stroke converted by Le Marchand.