CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Senior forwards Caroline Andretta and Erin Scherrer each recorded a goal and an assist in Thursday’s ACC Championship quarterfinal against Syracuse to power the second-seeded Blue Devils past the Orange, 4-1. Duke advanced to the tournament semifinals for the third consecutive season.
With the win, head coach Pam Bustin’s squad improved to 15-4 overall. Bustin also collected the 275th victory of her head coaching career with the result.
“The way the team came out, the focus and the preparation they had for this game was awesome,” Bustin said. “Really pleased that they were able to take that energy and keep it organized and keep it controlled enough to really string together a lot of good hockey and a lot of good passes to earn those goals.”
A pair of Blue Devil seniors broke open the scoring just over four minutes in, as Scherrer found a wide open Andretta in front of the cage. Andretta’s 12th tally of the season extended her scoring streak to three consecutive games.
Duke doubled its lead on a fast break opportunity minutes later, with freshman Leah Crouse sending a ball over for Scherrer, who fired it past the Syracuse goalkeeper to make it 2-0 at the 8:30 mark.
“This year we really made it our goal to come into the tournament hot and score a lot of goals right off the bat,” Scherrer said. “Last game that we played [Syracuse], we had a lot of opportunities to score. We just didn’t execute on them. So it was a focus during practice this week to really finish on some hard shots.”
Redshirt junior goalkeeper Sammi Steele made three first-half saves, including a glove stop on the lone corner attempt of the half, to keep a clean sheet going into the intermission. The Blue Devil defense surrendered just three shots in the opening frame.
Junior back Jillian Wolgemuth helped Duke continue to deny the Orange offensive chances in the second half. Scherrer drew a penalty stroke in the 52nd minute, which junior Haley Schleicher successfully converted, extending the lead to 3-0. Schleicher improved to 3-for-3 on stroke attempts this season.
“Our defense always plays well against teams like this, with the long balls they send from the backfield and stepping up and intercepting,” Scherrer said. “Jillian, Lexi [Davidson] – everyone on the defensive end did an awesome job just stepping up in front and being the first person to the ball. That was what set the tone for the game.”
Steele came up with another diving glove save before Syracuse got on the board in the 60th minute on a penalty stroke. However, the Blue Devils would counter with a final tally by senior forward Rose Tynan inside the final two minutes. Tynan put the finishing touch on a feed from Andretta on the right side of the circle for her team-leading 14th goal of the season and to secure the 100th point of her career. A native of Auckland, New Zealand, Tynan became the 12th player in program history to join the century club in career points.
Steele closed out the victory with five saves while Borg van der Velde had nine on the other end for the Orange. On the day, Duke outshot Syracuse by a 20-9 margin and the Orange had the lone corner of the contest.
“From the front line, I think we worked very hard today to keep the ball on the front end of the field,” Bustin said. “And then the chances they did have or they did create in the backfield, our backs kept it clean and really strong. They stayed alert the whole game.”
The Blue Devils return to North Carolina’s Karen Shelton Stadium Friday for a semifinal matchup against sixth-seeded Wake Forest, which advanced with a 3-2 victory over No. 3 seed Louisville Thursday. The 2:30 p.m. semifinal contest will be broadcast on RSN and ACC Network Extra with live stats also available.