Durham, N.C. - Top-seeded Duke downed James Madison 16-6 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday to advance to the Final Four for the second straight season and third in school history. Duke previously made it to the Final Four in 1999 and 2005.
The Blue Devils improve to 18-2 on the year, setting school records for wins in a season (18) and wins over ranked opponents in a season (11). Duke also set single-season school records for goals (301), assists (123) and points (424). James Madison ends its season with a 15-5 record as Duke snapped their seven-game winning streak.
James Madison won the draw to start the game and scored on a shot by Julie Stone just 38 seconds in to the game to take the lead. At the 26:44 mark, the Duke’s goalie Livvy King tried to clear the ball near midfield but Katie Chrest intercepted the pass and fired the ball in from 30 yards out to even the score. Kelly Berger put JMU back on top with 26 minutes to play when she scored on a free position shot, but with 19:17 to play in the half, Leigh Jester took a feed from Caroline Cryer and scored, sparking what would be a 7-0 run to end the half. Cryer had two goals and an assist to lead the charge while Rachel Sanford chipped in a pair of goals and Megan Huether kept the Dukes off the board with five saves.
Jester would cap off the run with a free-position goal at the 26:19 mark to start the second half, making it eight straight goals for the Blue Devils. Lynlea Cronin broke a scoreless streak of 31:34 minutes, when she scored on a free position shot to make the score 9-3. However, that would be all JMU would get over the next 17 minutes as Duke cruised to another 7-0 run to take a commanding 16-3 advantage. The run was capped off when Chrest scored on a behind-the-back shot off a pass from Cryer for her second goal of the game. James Madison ended the game with three straight goals, including one with three seconds left to make the final score 16-6.
Cryer finished with a game-high four goals and two assists for a career-best six points. The four goals matched a career-high that she set last year against William & Mary. Sanford and Jester also each tallied hat tricks in the game. Sanford added an assist, two ground balls, three draw controls and three caused turnovers. Her four points give her 100 for her career while Jester’s third goal was the 100th in her career. Chrest, Carolyn Davis and Megan Del Monte each finished the game with two goals and an assist. Laura Anderson helped set the pace for the Duke defense in the early going with three caused turnovers. Huether ended the game with nine saves and four goals allowed. The Dukes were led by Berger and Cronin, who each scored two goals in the contest. King finished with seven saves, five coming in the first half.
The Blue Devils will square off against Northwestern, the defending national champions, at 6 p.m. on Friday at Nickerson Field in Boston, Mass. Duke is the only team to hand the Wildcats a loss this season as they snapped a 31-game winning streak with a 16-10 victory on April 7. The other semifinal game will feature Notre Dame and Dartmouth at 8:30 p.m.