NEWTON, Mass. – The seventh-ranked and fourth-seeded Duke field hockey team advanced to the semifinals of the 2013 ACC Championship Thursday, outlasting No. 4 Virginia 2-1 in a rain-soaked contest at Boston College’s Field Hockey Field.
With the win, head coach Pam Bustin’s squad (14-5, 3-3 ACC) moves on to face top-ranked and top-seeded Maryland Friday, Nov. 7 at 1 p.m. on RSN and ESPN3.
“I was really proud that our players were the ones bringing it down together and coming up with a composed plan to keep the ball away from Virginia,” Bustin said. “They wanted it today.”
The Blue Devils earned a pair of early penalty corners seven minutes into the contest, and after a save by Virginia’s Jenny Johnstone on the first opportunity, senior Emmie Le Marchand touched in a hit by senior Brenna Rescigno at the post to give Duke an early 1-0 advantage. The goal marked Le Marchand’s team-leading 12th of the year while Rescigno was credited with her fourth assist.
Both teams had penalty corner opportunities throughout the remainder of the half, with the Blue Devil defense neutralizing multiple scoring threats by Virginia. The Cavaliers’ Chloe Pendlebury fired a shot from the wing on a penalty corner play midway through the period, but Duke redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Lauren Blazing was there for her first save of the afternoon.
Despite a strong defensive effort, Virginia knotted the game at 1-all in the 31st minute when Caleigh Foust tipped in a feed from teammate Elly Buckley.
Blazing rebounded with a critical stop toward the end of the half following a defensive save by sophomore Amanda Kim, giving her four saves at the intermission.
Duke regained the lead just over six minutes into the second half when Le Marchand found redshirt senior Devon Gagliardi on a cross to the front of the cage for Gagliardi’s fourth goal of the season.
Following a couple more saves by Blazing, Le Marchand stepped in to take a penalty stroke for the Blue Devils in the 51st minute. Her shot was saved by the Cavaliers’ Johnstone, preserving the 2-1 score with 19:05 to play.
Anchored by Blazing in goal, the Duke defense weathered several more Virginia penalty corners until the Cavaliers pulled Johnstone from their goal with just over three minutes to go. The Blue Devils kept Virginia off the board the rest of the way to earn a spot in the semifinals.
“Lauren Blazing had a great game,” Bustin said. “We had to make some changes on our defensive penalty corners from last weekend – just clean it up a little bit. And I thought that the entire unit made an effort and made a commitment to doing that. It allowed Lauren to make some great saves and some spectacular saves.”
For the game, the Cavaliers held a 14-7 edge in shots and led in penalty corners 10-6. Blazing finished with nine saves, with Kim and Rescigno adding one defensive save each, while Virginia’s Johnstone tallied three stops in the loss.