EAST LANSING, Mich. – The fourth-ranked Duke field hockey program picked up right where it left off in last fall, beginning the 2014 campaign with a thrilling 2-1 overtime victory at No. 16 Michigan State Friday afternoon. The Blue Devils won their season-opening contest for the second consecutive year and third time under the direction of head coach Pam Bustin.
Freshmen Ainsley Gill and Alexa Mackintire both scored in their collegiate debuts, with Mackintire’s goal in the 85th minute sealing the overtime win. In addition, Duke’s defensive unit limited a powerful Michigan State attack to just one score on 15 shots.
“Today was a great lesson,” Bustin said. “We realized sometimes games are going to go like that, and you’ve just got to stay true to what the plan is, stay true to what we know and what we’re good at and just keep on plugging until it’s over. For the new kids, that’s an important lesson to learn and we learned it today against a great team.”
The Blue Devils (1-0) tallied their first goal of the 2014 season 21 minutes into the contest as junior Abby Beltrani and freshman Alyssa Chillano assisted Gill on a successful penalty corner play. Bolstered by a strong performance by the back line, redshirt junior goalkeeper Lauren Blazing made five first-half saves against seven shots from the Spartans.
Despite a solid defensive front by Duke, Michigan State’s Abby Barker broke through in the 70th minute to even the score at 1-1.
Duke emerged the aggressor in the overtime period, logging two penalty corners and eight shots. Mackintire finished on a touch from Beltrani in the final second of the first overtime to send the Blue Devils to victory.
On the day, Duke held an 18-15 advantage in shots. Penalty corners were even with each team earning seven apiece.
Blazing finished with nine stops while Sierra Patton had seven saves for Michigan State (0-1) in the loss.
“The defense was awesome,” Bustin said. “We had some great double team and number-up defensive situations from the midfield, which was really great. Amanda Kim was outstanding in the backfield and the cover line. She had key tackles around the circle and within the circle. The first half especially, I thought our circle defense was poised and really exhibited great control. And of course Blazing had some phenomenal saves to relieve us of some of the pressure”
The Blue Devils will remain in East Lansing to face Central Michigan Sunday, Aug. 31 at 1 p.m.