By Taylor McNitt
The Hawkeyes held high hopes going into a weekend battle against Duke in Durham, North Carolina, but those aspirations didn’t come back to Iowa City.
The Blue Devils took down the Hawkeyes, 4-2; however, even with the loss, Iowa shouldn’t be disappointed by its performance against the No. 2 team in the country.
Before Sunday, it had been nine years since Iowa faced Duke, 10 since the Hawkeyes have won against the Blue Devils. Considering all of this, that the score was as close as it ended up being speaks volumes about the Hawkeyes.
The first half of the game was almost entirely an attack by the Blue Devils — the Hawkeyes were pummeled by 17 shots in the first half alone.
Senior goalkeeper Katie Jones made 8 saves in that first half.
Duke didn’t actually put a ball in the back of the net until the 27th minute on a penalty stroke. That goal seemed to break the stalemate, and Duke scored again five minutes later on a rebound.
The Hawkeyes must have revised their plan, because when they took the field again in the second half, it was a new game. After taking only 2 shots in the first half, Iowa ended up taking 10 in the second, while it reduced the shot opportunities for the Blue Devils to only 4.
Iowa’s renewed aggression made it possible for the team to draw seven penalty corners in the second half, as opposed to zero in the first. The Hawkeyes capitalized on one of them in the 32nd minute, courtesy of sophomore Katie Birch, assisted by freshman Maddy Murphy and senior Melissa Progar.
Duke responded five minutes later to make the score 3-1, forcing the Hawkeyes to fight a 2-point deficit again.
That deficit didn’t last long because freshman Nikki Freeman scored her first goal of the season, assisted by graduate student Lucie Daman, to make the score 3-2, at least for a minute.
A minute after Freeman’s goal, Duke responded with an aggressive attack by junior Erin Scherrer, who dodged two Iowa defenders to score the goal that sealed the deal for the game at 4-2.
Despite the loss on their record, the Hawkeyes won’t hang their heads. Against No. 2 Duke’s withering storm, the Hawkeyes stood strong, successfully defending all seven penalty corners. They kept the game scoreless for 28 minutes and kept Duke’s goals relatively few and far in between.
Iowa will be back at Grant Field to take on No. 10 Northwestern on Friday and No. 4 Michigan on Oct. 15. If the Hawkeyes play with the same grit and perseverance they did against Duke, fans can be hopeful for the weekend to come.