By Emily Simanskis, The Miami Student
Miami University's field hockey team maintained an unwavering level of intensity when facing second-ranked Duke, but ultimately lost 3-0 to the Blue Devils Sunday afternoon.
With the loss, the RedHawks fall to 3-5 on the season, while the Blue Devils improve to a spotless record of 8-0.
Duke was commanding in their early play, inundating Miami with tight gaps and purposeful passes, effectively testing the RedHawks' defense. Shots were exchanged between the two teams within the first eleven minutes, and the RedHawks soon found their stride as they began to match the Blue Devils' speed.
Duke's substitution for sophomore forward Rose Tynan was a catalyst for the Blue Devil's offense, as Miami's goalkeeper Alysa Xavier was forced to make a couple of saves against Tynan in the 11th and 14th minute.
Duke midfielder Alexa Mackintire's pass from outside the circle was tipped by the relentless Tynan, beating Xavier and putting Duke up 1-0.
Miami midfielder Mariona Heras' shot after a Miami penalty corner was blocked during the 19th minute, but the Blue Devils counterattacked and earned a penalty corner of their own. The RedHawks defense secured a block, keeping Miami's hope alive.
Xavier showcased her skill again when making a terrific save amongst traffic during the 28th minute, keeping the score at 1-0. After a late shot by standout forward Paula Portugal, the RedHawks entered halftime outshot 7-3.
Perhaps feeding off the feisty exchange of cheers between Duke and Miami parents, the RedHawks began the second half of game play with a heightened sense of determination.
While fighting valiantly to tie the game, Miami's Mariona Heras drew a yellow card in the 44th minute, forcing the RedHawks to attempt to adjust to competing down a player and to channel their frustration into competitive energy.
On the rebound of a previous shot, Duke's Robin Blazing put the Blue Devils up 2-0 in the 46th minute. Under two minutes later, Rose Tynan was back for more and commandingly extended her team's lead to 3-0.
The game ended with four penalty corners and five shots between the teams. Duke ended with 13 shots to Miami's seven, though Miami took four penalty corners to Duke's three.
"I think it was a good game of hockey. Duke is a very good team," head coach Inako Puzo said. "There's no regrets about the performance today. The team played good. I think we competed from the first minute to the last minute to win the game, and that's what I expected from them -- just try to win the game."
The RedHawks face Central Michigan Friday in their first Mid-American Conference game of the season and then non-conference opponent Michigan State on Saturday.
Avery Sturm, a sophomore midfielder/back said of the upcoming weekend, "It's our first MAC game and that's really exciting. We're excited to kind of prove ourselves to them, too. Hopefully we get the win."