COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A back-and-forth top-five battle with Maryland saw the Blue Devils come up just short in a 4-3 loss Sunday at the B1G/ACC Cup.
Third-ranked Duke (3-1) surrendered its first loss in four years at the B1G/ACC Cup, splitting the weekend with the loss to the fourth-ranked Terrapins and a 4-0 shutout of 12th-ranked Northwestern Friday.
“We were playing some great hockey, and we were playing with high intensity,” said head coach Pam Bustin. “A lot of credit to the fight to get back in it … This is the battle. This kind of schedule is why you come to Duke. You’ve got to play the top teams to become better and then to be the best. Hopefully this does prepare us. I think this team mentally understands what it is. Games that are this close in the beginning of the season that don’t go our way, we have to make a positive because we still have a lot of time and we’re young, so there’s a lot of room to grow and learn.”
After the Blue Devil defense defused an initial corner attempt, Maryland took the lead 13 minutes into the contest on a strike by Bibi Donraadt from the right side of the circle. The Terrapins made it 2-0 less than two minutes later, converting on a penalty corner opportunity.
Duke generated seven shots and three corner attempts in the opening 35 minutes but went into halftime scoreless.
A Blue Devil penalty corner opportunity in the 45th minute resulted in a penalty stroke for junior midfielder Haley Schleicher. Schleicher fired into the back of the cage to trim the deficit to one.
Maryland then drove into the Duke circle but a diving stop by redshirt junior goalkeeper Sammi Steele kept the score at 2-1. However, the Terrapins penetrated the scoring circle again and put the lead back at two with 15 minutes remaining.
The Blue Devils responded with Olivia Sahaydak’s fourth goal in three games, as she provided a diving finish on a touch by fellow freshman Leah Crouse. Following another Maryland goal on a penalty corner, Duke countered with a Lily Posternak score off the stick of Rose Tynan. That brought the Blue Devils back within one with six minutes to play.
Duke pulled Steele from the cage in favor of an extra field player in the waning minutes, but was unable to come up with the equalizer.
“We had the opportunities,” Bustin said. “You know the old adage, ‘A team is more vulnerable right after they’ve scored.’ And I think that’s really where we took advantage and capitalized on the energy we’d been putting out the whole game. We’ve just got to do it every chance we have.”
For the afternoon, the Blue Devils outshot the Terrapins by a 15-11 margin while placing 13 of the 15 looks on cage. Penalty corners were even at four apiece.
“Being as deep as we are and having that confidence that, ‘I can go as hard as I have to and I will get that break. And somebody will come in and go as hard as I just went’ is really awesome,” Bustin said of the high temperatures. “It allows our players to really push it.”
Duke is back in action Friday, traveling to Princeton, N.J., for a matchup with the Tigers of the Ivy League. The match is slated for a 4 p.m. start on ESPN+.