WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – A penalty stroke by sophomore back Lexi Davidson proved to be the difference in a back and forth ACC battle Friday night at Wake Forest’s Kentner Stadium. The fourth-ranked Blue Devils overcame an early deficit to defeat the 21st-ranked Demon Deacons, 3-2.
Duke improved to 8-3 overall and 2-1 in conference play with the victory, the squad’s fifth of the season on the road.
The Deacons broke open the scoring just minutes into the contest, converting on the first penalty corner opportunity. Anne van Hoof provided the finish on the set piece to put the home team ahead.
The Blue Devils generated a couple looks of their own before junior midfielder Margaux Paolino knotted the score at 1-1 in the 12th minute with a quick step around her defender inside the scoring circle.
“We just got right back to it, right on it,” said head coach Pam Bustin. “I’m really happy we did score within the next 10 minutes. That was really important. If it had gone on for too long it becomes a little more desperate, a little more frustrating. From there, once it was even, we just started playing a really good hockey game against a very good Wake team. I’m really proud of the way we just kept at it for the full game. We never really let up our mindset and we never let up our desire to finish the game.”
Duke’s defense would not allow a second Wake Forest shot until late in the half, but it was the Blue Devils who would score next. A kick save by redshirt junior goalkeeper Sammi Steele set up a fast break, with a pass from senior Caroline Andretta finding its way to classmate Rose Tynan for the tally. The 2-1 advantage would hold through to the intermission.
The Deacons tied the contest again early in the second half, with Emily Adamson scoring. Play went back and forth until Erin Scherrer earned a stroke opportunity for the Blue Devils in the 54th minute. Davidson converted to put Duke back in front at 3-2. The goal was good for the first of Davidson’s career.
“I just wanted to score so we could get the lead and get the win,” Davidson said. “It’s good to get a win to start off the weekend, especially against a strong team.”
Wake Forest goalkeeper Isla Bint recorded four of her five saves over the final 10 minutes of play, but the Blue Devils were equally as effective on their defensive end to secure the one-goal win.
“Something we’ve really been working on is recognizing when it’s time just to move the ball and keep possession, especially against a team that moves as quickly as Wake does,” Bustin said. “Hopefully you’re going to create some opportunities to strike, and we did. We had some great looks at the goal first half. I thought we had even better looks at the goal second half. Didn’t capitalize. I also thought their goalkeeper played very well today. It was a good match and I’m proud of the team for sticking to it.”
For the contest, Duke led 11-6 in shots, placing eight of the looks on cage. Penalty corners were even at three apiece.
The Blue Devils step out of conference play for a Sunday contest at Appalachian State. Action begins at 1 p.m. at the Mountaineers’ Brandon & Erica M. Adcock Field. Live stats will be available here.