The Hoyas have had an eventful and challenging week and a half, playing three straight matches against the three top-ranked teams, before ending the four-game home stretch against George Mason (4-1-5). No. 4/5 Georgetown (5-2) emerged with two losses against the two top teams – Northwestern (9-0) and Maryland (7-0) – and two wins against No. 3 Duke (7-2) and George Mason.

The Wildcats showed the Hoyas why they are No.1, defeating them comprehensively 15-4, while just two goals put the Terps above the Hoyas in the 14-12 heartbreaker.

In a show of their mental toughness, the Hoyas did not let those two losses into their heads when they hosted Duke. They knew the game was a crucial one – not only for their ranking and record, but also for their morale.

“You want to come back after a tough loss and make sure you play well,” Head Coach Ricky Fried said.

The Hoyas’ win marked the first time they had defeated the Blue Devils since 2004 and the first time they had done so under Fried. He stressed that the win belonged entirely to the players and not him; yet, he acknowledged how much he wanted to win personally.

“It’s been five games in my career that we haven’t beaten them,” Fried said. “Obviously it’s in the back of my mind and at times, nice to know that we don’t need to focus on that anymore.”

Junior midfielder Ashby Kaestner scored the first goal of the match off a pass from junior attacker Molly Ford.

The goal gave the Hoyas an important mental boost, although it was not the main focus in the coach’s mind: “We didn’t have as much of an emphasis on getting the first goal as getting the first draw control and getting possession,” Fried said, “but, obviously the goal was a bonus.”

Within two minutes, Duke responded with an equalizer. In the next eight minutes, the teams exchanged goals twice. With the score tied at 3-3, Ford scored her second goal to put the Hoyas in the lead. For the first time in the match, Duke did not strike back, and instead, a goal from sophomore attacker Jordy Kirr cemented a two-goal Hoya lead going into halftime.

Duke started off the second half scoring at 28:03, but Georgetown reacted quickly with a goal from senior midfielder Megan Bloomer. Then, a few minutes later Bloomer was instrumental in another Hoya goal, picking up a ground ball and starting the Hoya attack which ended with a free-position shot fired in by Kirr, putting the Hoyas ahead by three.

The lead was soon cut down as Duke scored twice in a 1:15 span to come back within one. However, the Hoyas widened the gap again thanks to sophomore attacker Allie Hubschmann’s unassisted strike that found the back of the Blue Devil net.

Duke, however, built its first sizable run of the game, scoring four goals – with no Hoya response – to go 10-8 in the lead. When asked if the Duke run prompted any change in strategy, Fried said that even though some fresh legs were brought on the field, the main strategy was just to fight back.

“Our goal after Duke’s 10th was scored on a set-up play, which also helped boost our confidence a lot,” Fried said. With determined play, the Hoyas matched Duke’s 4-0 run to go up 12-10 with only a minute and a half in play.

Still, Duke was not silenced. With 33 seconds on the clock, Duke’s Carolyn Davis, a senior midfielder, put the Blue Devils within one. Immediately afterward, the Blue Devils won a crucial draw-control and went deep into Hoya territory. Senior attack Caroline Cryer chanced a shot at the goal with 18 seconds left in the game – yet, Georgetown junior goalkeeper Caitlin Formby made the biggest save of the day, knocking the ball away and securing a clutch 12-11 win for the Hoyas.

Although Formby’s last save won the game for the Hoyas, it was not her only contribution – her five saves in the second half, compared with zero saves made by Duke’s goalkeeper, made the difference in the game.

“Caitlin’s been playing great which makes a tremendous difference,” Fried said. “It gives the defense a lot of confidence.”

Georgetown’s scrappiness was the talking point of the game, resulting in 18 ground ball pickups – six more than Duke. On the offensive end, however, the Hoyas were considerably outshot – 28-18. Yet Fried did not regard this statistic as negative.

“We took 18 shots but we scored 12 goals – what we had were good opportunities,” he said. “We focus on the quality of the shots, not the quantity.”

Offensively, Kirr and Ford turned in inspired performances; they both took full advantage of their opportunities, scoring seven goals on eight shots between them.

The Hoyas will be on the road this weekend, playing No. 8 UNC (6-2) at Chapel Hill on Saturday. Interestingly, of top-ranked Northwestern’s matches thus far, the closest was its 12-7 win over UNC, and the second tightest match it played was against Georgetown.

“UNC is very athletic and puts a lot of pressure on opponents,” Fried said. “We will continue to focus on minimizing mistakes and maximizing possessions.”

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