The ACC Tournament started and ended for Duke Thursday afternoon, as the Blue Devils lost their first round game 2-1 to the Virginia Cavaliers.
Third-seeded Virginia (16-2) defeated sixth-seeded Duke for the second time in six days after the Blue Devils fell in a down-to-the-wire contest at Jack Katz Stadium Saturday. Thursday’s win proved no easier for the Cavaliers. Virginia’s Elly Buckley scored in the 19th minute, and the Cavaliers held their 1-0 lead into halftime. Tara Puffenberger notched another goal for Virginia in the 42nd minute to establish a two-goal edge in the second half.
Down the stretch, though, Duke (8-11) showed the tenacity it has demonstrated all season, closing the gap to one goal when Susan Ferger tipped in an errant shot with less than two minutes remaining in the game. Head coach Beth Bozman was impressed with the team’s effort down the stretch.
“We had multiple freshmen in the lineup and a young squad overall,” Bozman said. “We could have rolled over and given up, but we fought and fought and fought, and it really shows the desire of this team.”
As it has been much of the year for Duke, defense was the theme in the game, with very few offensive opportunities presenting themselves to either team. The statistics reflected the closeness of the game, as the Cavaliers outshot the Blue Devils just 9-7 overall, while Duke led the way 5-4 in shots on goal. This was the eighth game this season that the Blue Devils lost by one goal.
Duke was an underdog going into the contest, as No. 3 Virginia proved to be one of the best teams in the country this season. Playing a highly-ranked opponent was not new territory for the Blue Devils; Duke played the NCAA’s most difficult schedule this year.
“This is a team that played the toughest schedule in the country, with probably the youngest team in the country, and the team never quit,” Bozman said.
With the season coming to a close, the team will lose key seniors Sarah Schoffstall and Susan Ferger.
“They were the most unselfish and team-committed athletes I’ve ever coached,” Bozman said. “They gave effort to do anything for the team.”
Bozman praised the play of her team throughout the season and encouraged others to do the same.
“Anyone who’s a Duke fan should be proud of the effort this team gave this season,” she said.
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