Whether it was the seven-overtime men's lacrosse game that delayed Duke's game, or the scoreboard malfunction that extended the halftime break or miserable field conditions in a rainy second half-it seemed there was always something preventing the Blue Devils from playing their game.
But nothing could prevent No. 5 Duke from winning Saturday, as the Blue Devils found some last-second luck and a game-winning goal with 11 seconds left from sophomore Sarah Bullard in their 13-12 victory over ACC rival Virginia in Charlottesville, Va.
The win marked Duke's first victory over the Cavaliers in their last four meetings, and it was the Blue Devils' fourth win over a ranked opponent this season.
In the final minute of play, with the score knotted at 12 in what had been a back-and-forth contest, it looked as if No. 10 Virginia (7-4, 1-3 in the ACC) would get to fire the last shot of regulation. But the Cavaliers threw an errant pass, and the ball bounced the Blue Devils' way.
Duke midfielder Danielle Kachulis, who Bullard called the team's fastest player, scooped up the Cavalier turnover and raced down the field, outrunning most of the transitioning Virginia squad on the way.
The wet turf caused Kachulis to slip, but her desperation flip pass reached Caroline Cryer, and the Blue Devils (9-2, 2-1) were able to maintain possession and work the ball around Cavalier territory, looking for a final chance in the last 30 seconds.
Duke slashed repeatedly in front of the net, but to no avail, until a defensive mix-up by Virginia caused Carolyn Davis to be swarmed by multiple players.
Bullard was left wide open, and when Megan Del Monte found her streaking toward the goal, Bullard buried the shot in the back of the net with just 11 ticks left.
"We made a great team play to force the ball out of bounds, and Danielle kept her composure to bring the ball up the field," Bullard said. "We were able to run our end-of-half play and it worked out. Everyone did a great job and it was just coincidence that it was me."
Although Virginia opened the game with three unanswered goals, the teams eventually leveled out in an evenly-matched half, with both teams recording 19 shots on net. After the first nine minutes of play, no team had had a lead of more than two goals.
Davis and Lindsay Gilbride were both clutch in the opening period, as each notched three goals to help cool the Cavaliers' hot start and secure an 8-7 advantage at the break.
Rain slowed down the play in the second half and kept both offenses more or less at bay. In fact, a seven-minute offensive dry spell preceded Bullard's game-winning tally.
The win will certainly build the Blue Devils' confidence at the right time, as the team prepares for a matchup Friday against No. 1 Northwestern, the four-time defending national champion, in Evanston, Ill.
"This was a tough game-the conditions were not ideal, and I felt our kids stuck to the game plan and just toughed it out," head coach Kerstin Kimel said. "We knew the team that won the draw and had the ball more in the second half would win the game, and that's what happened today."
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