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UVa halts Blue Devils' title dream

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Draw control.

Head coach Kerstin Kimel harps on it every time her players pick up their lacrosse sticks, and as a result, the Blue Devils won almost 57 percent of their draws this season.

But after Duke (17-4) tied the score early in the second half, Virginia (17-5) took control of the draw and with it, the NCAA semifinal. After less than six minutes the Cavaliers were ahead five and never looked back.

“We gave up probably eight draws right in a row and that led to their run in the second half,” Kimel said. “That has been a big key for us all season, and Virginia did a great job of winning the draws.”

Duke mounted a three-goal rally in the final minutes, but with just under 3:30 remaining it lost a critical draw control allowing the Cavaliers to run the clock down.

Katie Chrest picked off a pass with about a minute remaining, but the Blue Devils botched their final scoring chance, allowing Virginia to advance with a 15-13 victory. The loss ended the best season in the 10-year history of Duke’s program—one in which the Blue Devils set school records in wins, and nearly every offensive category.

“I think our kids played a very good game tonight,” Kimel said. “I thought Virginia played a great game. I thought their offense was outstanding.”

Virginia lost 13-10 in the title game to Northwestern, who capped their undefeated season with the program’s first NCAA Championship.

Duke had won both of its previous meetings with the Cavaliers this season and was expecting a different game plan Friday night, especially after holding Virginia’s top three scorers—Amy Appelt, Tyler Leachman and Cary Chasney—without a goal in the ACC Championship game.

“Third time’s a charm,” Appelt said. “We went out and expected to play better and executed. We knew we could play better than the first two teams they saw this year.”

The Cavaliers’ trio netted eight goals, including three from Appelt, who became the all-time leading scorer in NCAA Tournament history.

Rather than relying heavily on their talented one-on-one attackers as they had in the earlier meetings, the Cavaliers fed cutters around the crease for easy scores. The passing helped, as nine of Virginia’s goals were assisted.

“We did a great job on our transition game,” Virginia head coach Julie Myers said. “We were moving the ball and moving off ball incredibly well offensively.”

After Duke jumped out to an early 5-2 lead, the Cavaliers fought back and took a two-goal advantage into halftime. Chrest, who finished the season with a school record 70 goals, 96 points and 162 shots, quickly netted two of her three scores to tie the game again.

But Duke’s shot selection in the second half was poor Kimel said, as only six of their 16 shots found the cage. Chrest attributed

“I think their defense played really hard—we’re not used to being down like that,” Chrest said. “We got away from our game plan a little bit, and Virginia was able to come up with some good saves off of poor shot selection.”

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