For the third-straight game, Boston College field hockey midfielder Lucy Lytle opened the scoring gates, finding the back of the cage 15 minutes into the Eagles’ Friday evening bout with fourth-ranked Duke. But, just like last week’s loss to North Carolina, the offense—despite outshooting the opposition—failed to provide any sort of insurance, and the Blue Devils recorded a pair of goals in the final stages of regulation to scoop up a 2-1 win, their seventh-consecutive victory.
BC hasn’t defeated Duke since the 2012 season. That said, of its past seven losses to the Blue Devils, all but one have been decided by one scoring play. Thanks to Lytle, that was once again the case this time around.
The No. 11 Eagles (9-6, 2-4 Atlantic Coast)—who tallied six first-half corners—rattled off three in a row in the early portion of the first half. As they say, the third time’s the charm: Frederique Haverhals received an insert near the top of the circle and flung a shot toward Sammi Steele. After hitting Lytle’s stick, the ball deflected off the redshirt junior goaltender’s chest plate. Lytle, waiting patiently at the net’s doorstep, corralled the rebound and slipped a shot past not only Steele, but also a pair of Duke backs, handing BC a one-goal lead.
BC didn’t take its foot off the gas the rest of the period. In fact, the Eagles ended up outshooting the No. 4 Blue Devils (13-3, 5-1), 9-4, and doubling their corner output. Quite simply, BC was stitching together one of its better performances of the season, despite playing on the road.
The problem was, Joanna Kennedy—the Eagles’ freshman goalie, who was making her third career start—could only hold Duke scoreless for so long, and reasonably so. After all, Duke has the second-highest scoring offense in the ACC.
Without a cushion, BC’s lead crumbled in a matter of minutes. It all started in the 56th minute. Leah Crouse controlled a deflection, sped past the 25-yard line, and cut back toward the cage, evading two Eagles in the process. As she maneuvered her way through the BC defense, she took a generous touch—one that prompted Kennedy to come out of the net. But just before the goaltender could extinguish the potential scoring play, an off-balanced Crouse whipped a pass in the direction of Erin Scherrer, who ripped the ball into an open cage with ease.
About four minutes later, Crouse jumpstarted another scoring play. This time, Noor van de Laar intercepted a BC pass and, without hesitation, dumped the ball off to Crouse. The freshman sprinted toward the top of the circle before delivering a pass to Rose Tynan. As soon as the forward got her stick on the ball, she veered to the left, in attempt to hook a shot around Kennedy. She came up empty, but luckily for Duke, a foul at the tail end of the sequence gifted the Blue Devils with a penalty stroke.
Haley Schleicher made the most of the opportunity, firing a shot into the bottom left corner of the cage. Kennedy dove the right way, but not in time to make the stop. Duke kept the Eagles off the board the rest of the way. When all was said and done, BC rounded out the second half with four corners, including one in the final 10 minutes of regulation, but the Blue Devils stood their ground.
The Senior Night victory pushes Duke’s record against ACC competition to 5-1. Head coach Kelly Doton’s team, on the other hand, slides to a meager 2-4 in that department, wrapping up conference play below .500 for the second-straight year. After kicking off the ACC slate with a pair of wins, BC has proceeded to lose four consecutive matches. The collapse—although disappointing for Eagles fans—comes as no surprise, considering that the conference is the best in the sport, not to mention that BC has yet to tally more than three ACC wins in a season.
Not all is lost, though. The Eagles have three non-conference games remaining and a chance to enter the postseason with momentum on their side. Then, they’ll get one more crack at their conference rivals. And, at that point, one’s record—seeding aside—is practically obsolete.
Featured Image by Sam Zhai / Heights Staff