PRINCETON, N.J. – Fourth-ranked Duke had the upper hand early but could not contain Princeton in the second half of a 3-2 loss to the sixth-ranked Tigers Friday.
The Blue Devils slipped to 3-2 on the season after facing their second consecutive top-10 opponent and fifth ranked foe in as many contests.
“We’re learning,” said head coach Pam Bustin. “ We’re going to look at it, come together as a team, talk about it and grow from it. Our leaders are really learning quickly, and our more inexperienced players are getting the experience. It can only be better for us as we move from day to day.”
The Blue Devils opened the contest with an early penalty corner opportunity and got on the board later in the half on a Margaux Paolino score. Rose Tynan sent a ball into the circle that Paolino fired past the Princeton goalkeeper for her second tally of the season.
Redshirt junior goalkeeper Sammi Steele and the Duke defensive penalty corner unit held strong against a pair of Princeton corner attempts to maintain the 1-0 advantage at the intermission.
The Tigers evened the score just minutes into the second half on a fast break by Clara Roth. However, the Blue Devils quickly went back in front on a backhand shot by Tynan just seconds later.
Steele made another stop on a Princeton opportunity inside the circle before the Tigers knotted up the contest again on a corner attempt to make it 2-2 with 18 minutes remaining.
Princeton took its first lead of the contest in the 54th minute, as MaryKate Neff collected a rebound and put it away.
Duke generated two consecutive attack penalty corners inside the final six minutes but both ensuing shots were blocked by the Tigers’ defense.
“We tried to make adjustments and at times we did,” Bustin said. “But I think it just put a lot of pressure on our backfield to have that big ball get through. It became chaotic. They’re very fast and they run things down and created some chaos for our backfield. And they earned those corners from it.”
Shots were even in the contest at nine apiece, as were penalty corners, 4-4. Steele recorded four saves in 67 minutes of action before exiting late in favor of an extra field player.
The weekend gets no easier for the Blue Devils, who face fifth-ranked Penn State in a neutral site matchup at Temple Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Live stats will be available here.