NORFOLK, Va. - For the seventh time this season, the sixth-ranked Duke field hockey team shut out its opponent as the Blue Devils scored four goals in the second stanza to convert a 1-0 halftime lead into a 5-0 NCAA Tournament victory over No. 10 Stanford Saturday afternoon from Old Dominion's Powhatan Sports Complex.
With the win, Duke (14-7) advances to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time in program history. The Blue Devils, now 15-10 all-time in NCAA Tournament play, will face No. 2 seed Old Dominion Sunday, Nov. 13 at 2 p.m.
Duke's five goals marks the Blue Devils highest scoring output since downing Central Michigan 5-0 on Oct. 23, 2011 as Duke outshot Stanford (17-4) 16-10 for the game. Sophomore Emmie Le Marchand led the way with three goals for her second hat trick of the season, while junior Devon Gagliardi registered a goal and an assist.
"I thought our team was definitely ready," said head coach Pam Bustin. "We were excited for this opportunity today and we knew it was going to be a battle against a very strong Stanford team. We just kept to the game plan, and kept on playing ... kept on composing ourselves, especially through the midfield; I thought that was the difference maker especially when it broke open in the second half."
The Cardinal led in penalty corners, 6-2, for the game, but Duke put 11 shots on goal, compared to just five shots on goal from Stanford as the Blue Devils' defense was able to frustrate the Cardinal attack. Redshirt senior Samantha Nelson made five saves to preserve the shutout, bringing her career total to 18.
"Stanford is a dangerous attacking team," said Bustin. "They've got forwards who can run and they've got a player in the backfield who can toss the ball over the entire length of the field, so it posed a bit of a challenge for us in keeping our organization. What seemed like a down moment defensively was one we actually had to stay sharp to because that ball can arrive at the other end of the field at any moment. I thought the kids did a great job communicating, being alert the entire time, knowing their lines and making adjustments when necessary."
The Blue Devils wasted little time taking the lead as Gagliardi put Duke up 1-0 less than three minutes into the game. The junior from Wilkes-Barre, Pa., collected a loose ball in the middle of the circle and converted the goal, her ninth of the season, on the first shot of the game by either team.
"All week we've really been working on our movement and off-ball movement, and the mids have been working on their pre-scanning," said Gagliardi. "The mids hit it into the circle and I was there to collect it and shoot it."
The first half would end with a 1-0 Blue Devil lead with Duke outshooting Stanford 7-3. Duke took control of the game early in the second half, extending its lead less than a minute into the stanza. Gagliardi fought through the Stanford defense to set up the play, finding Le Marchand in the circle for her first goal of the game.
"We wanted to be able to get a jump early," added Bustin. "With the energy that we bring and the game plan that we had, the girls were really excited to get at it. We knew if we could put some attacking pressure on them in the first five minutes, then we're going to set the tone, the way we want to play. I'm really pleased in both halves we came out scored within the first five minutes."
In the 53rd minute, Le Marchand pushed Duke's lead to three goals as the sophomore deflected in a pass from classmate Caashia Karringten. The Blue Devils' final two goals came in the last 10 minutes of play with sophomore McKay Ross scoring her third goal of the season off a pass from Grace Christus and Le Marchand deflecting in her third goal off another Karringten pass.
"We just stuck to our game plan," said Gagliardi, "We were really pressing them, so we knew the shots were going to come off and they were going to start going in."
Duke and Old Dominion will meet for the third time this season on Sunday as the two teams split their previous two meetings. Both games this season went to overtime with the Lady Monarchs earning a 3-2 victory on Sept. 18 and the Blue Devils posting a 2-1 victory on Oct. 16.