After netting just two combined goals in its last three games, the No. 13 Boston University field hockey team entered Sunday’s bout against No. 3 Duke University looking for redemption and an end to its recent three-game losing streak.
However, the Terriers’ prayers would not be answered in Durham, North Carolina as a Blue Devils (10-1) goal with just over a minute remaining handed the Terriers (7-4, 1-1 Patriot League) a crushing 2-1 defeat.
The sides entered the final two minutes of the hotly contested battle knotted at one goal apiece; however, the game-winning tally by Duke senior Heather Morris in the 69th minute provided the Blue Devils with the lead for good.
The win was Duke’s second straight, which opened up the season a perfect 8-0 before falling to in-state rival the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Sept. 25.
Similarly, the Terriers began the 2016 campaign with seven consecutive triumphs, but are in the midst of a four-game slump just days into October.
“The team competed well today against an outstanding [Duke] team,” BU head coach Sally Starr said. “We played hard and showed improvement from previous games. We had excellent scoring chances late in the game when it was 1-1. That is the disappointment — that we did not finish when given a great opportunity.”
Despite being outshot 27-7 and beaten 15-3 in penalty corners, the Terriers kept pace with their counterparts throughout, giving the favored Blue Devils all they could handle.
BU jumped onto the stat sheet first, as senior midfielder Hester van der Laan recorded her fifth goal of the year at the 19 minute mark.
The scoring opportunity came off a penalty corner, with the Amsterdam native capitalizing on impressive assists by senior forward Taylor Blood and sophomore fullback Ally Hammel. Van der Laan is now tied for the team lead in goals with forward Amanda Cassera, another senior.
The Terriers failed to defend their advantage, though, as a Blue Devils goal trickled into the net just 89 seconds later.
Off another penalty corner, Duke fullback Margaux Paolino’s left-sided shot ricocheted off of a BU stick and past senior goalkeeper Cammy Jensen to knot the game at one.
While the result of the game might have dealt the Terriers their first four-game losing streak since October 2003, Starr has plenty of positives to draw from. Jensen served as a nearly insurmountable brick wall in net, stopping nine shots throughout the game.
“Jensen and the corner defense were outstanding,” Starr said.
On offense, the Terriers were also able to muster an abundance of scoring chances in the second half against a stifling Duke defense. For reference, the Blue Devils defense has held opponents to 1.45 goal per game compared to the Terriers’ 1.55.
Although many occasions ended in shots that sailed wide of Duke’s goal, the Terriers’ resourcefulness in creating these opportunities against one of the finest defensive units in the nation is reason to be optimistic going forward.
BU will look to snap its four-game skid this Saturday when it travels to Patriot-League rival Bucknell University.
“We need to do things better than we have worked on,” Starr said. “Better organization and communication are key.”