In danger of missing the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1998 and going winless in league play for the first time since 1997—just the program's second year—the Blue Devils entered Saturday's contest seeking some positive signs to carry the team through the rest of the season.

Instead, following a second straight blowout loss, Duke began a long trip back to Durham with nothing but disappointment.

After plummeting out of the rankings thanks to a 16-6 loss at then-No. 13 Pennsylvania, the Blue Devils never found their footing in an 18-5 defeat at the hands of 20th-ranked Virginia Saturday afternoon at Klöckner Stadium in Charlottesville, Va. Duke looked lost to start the game, with sophomore goalkeeper Jamie Lockwood letting up seven goals in the first 7:43 as her team fell behind 7-1 before being benched in favor of freshman Gabbe Cadoux.

The Blue Devils hoped to improve on their one-on-one defense, but that improvement was nowhere to be found Saturday, as Cadoux let in seven more tallies in the rest of the first half despite making several timely saves. Duke trailed 14-4 heading into intermission, leading to a slow-paced second 30 minutes with the outcome already decided.

Their latest setback was the Blue Devils' fifth in their last six games and puts them in danger of posting a losing record for the first time since their inaugural season.

The Cavaliers (5-4, 2-2 in the ACC) entered the game averaging 12.6 goals per game and showed why to start the contest. Besser Dyson and Sammy Mueller—two of the four Virginia players who posted hat tricks—scored in the game's first minute after two quick draw controls to put the home team on the high side. Another Dyson tally quickly made it 3-0 barely two minutes into the contest.

Although a Grace Fallon goal got Duke (5-5, 0-4) on the board, the Blue Devils could not maintain possession and had no answers defensively as the Cavaliers reeled off a 6-0 run in 10 minutes to take a commanding 9-1 lead. Duke was whistled for 20 first-half fouls as Virginia used its quickness to get by Blue Devil defenders and fire shots with ease. 

The Cavaliers' pace and off-ball cutting also had Duke's defense reeling, meaning there was often little Lockwood and Cadoux could do facing an insurmountable onslaught of shots. 

The Blue Devils cut the deficit to 10-3 on free-position goals by freshman Catherine Cordrey and junior Maddie Crutchfield, but Virginia prevented them by getting any closer by scoring four of the first half's last five goals to go up 14-4. 

After starting the season 4-0 with a win against then-No. 12 Stanford, Duke's defense has not held an opponent to fewer than 10 goals since. 

The second half featured significantly less scoring, with only five goals between the two teams. Despite Cadoux’s five saves in the second half, Virginia was able to tack on four goals in the first 15 minutes, including two by Kelly Reese. Cordrey’s second goal of the game at 7:56 marked the end of scoring, with the Blue Devils on the wrong end of another lopsided result. 

Even though she allowed 11 goals, Cadoux's effort was actually one of Duke's only bright spots. The Ellicott City, Md., native finished with nine saves and stayed strong in the cage despite Virginia's ability to create open looks—the home team finished with 41 shots. Cadoux could see more time in net moving forward if Lockwood continues to struggle. 

Unlike other losses in which the Blue Devils showed promise in certain statistical categories, they were thoroughly outplayed in all facets of the game Saturday. Virginia shot the ball 19 more times, recovered 12 more ground balls and controlled five more draws, even committing three fewer turnovers despite dominating possession.

Things will get no easier for Duke, which heads into its final six games needing dramatic improvements. The Blue Devils have five top-20 opponents left on their schedule, starting Wednesday when they host No. 14 Elon (7-2). The Phoenix beat the Cavalier team that just trounced Duke 11-10 in mid-February.