After a tough 2-1 loss to North Carolina in the ACC championship, Duke wasted no time preparing for this weekend’s NCAA run. But after a resounding 5-0 victory over Stanford Saturday in the first round of the tournament, the Blue Devils suffered a season-ending 2-1 loss to Old Dominion in the quarterfinals the next day.
The 10th-seeded Blue Devils entered ready to face the seventh-seeded Cardinal. Duke wasted no time, scoring in the second minute en route to a 5-0 trouncing of Stanford to advance to the next round.
“After the ACC championship, we were very frustrated with the fact that we didn’t generate the attack that we had been generating,” head coach Pam Bustin said. “This week in practice, we really did work on our strength, which is our midfield.... I think the connection between our mids and forwards was exceptional.”
Junior midfielder Devon Gagliardi scored first with an unassisted strike from the middle of the circle. The rest of the first half remained scoreless despite seven shots on goal for the Blue Devils and three for the Cardinal.
The second half had a marked change in tempo right off the bat. Emmie Le Marchand struck in the 35th minute off an assist from Gagliardi. The sophomore added another goal in the 53rd minute off a deflected pass from classmate Caashia Karringten. Duke cemented its dominant win with two goals in the final 10 minutes. One came from McKay Ross and the final from Le Marchand, who completed her hat trick off another Karringten pass.
The Blue Devil defense had been dominant all season, and Saturday’s game saw more of the same as Duke recorded its seventh shutout of the year. Redshirt senior goalie Samantha Nelson made five saves, and Blue Devil defenders were able to neutralize Stanford’s attack.
“Our defensive structure in general has been strong all season, and I think we were familiar with their methods in gaining attack,” Bustin said. “They have a lot of forwards that they interchange and are pretty quick. I think our structure and preparation were able to keep their attack at bay.”
Coming off such a resounding victory, Duke was able to maintain the high intensity against the second-seeded Monarchs, keeping the game scoreless in the first stanza.
“We were able to play our game today,” Bustin said. “There were times when Old Dominion got the upper hand in the game’s tempo, but we were able to come back and regain some composure.”
In the second stanza, though, the Monarchs started to take more control of the game. The Monarchs opened the scoring in the 41st minute of the second stanza with a shot from Rebecca Condie off a penalty corner.
Duke responded with a goal from junior Mary Nielsen 11 minutes later off a penalty-corner assist from senior Rhian Jones.
Neither team was able to break through until Old Dominion notched a goal with just 7:20 left in the game. The Monarchs earned a penalty corner late in the second half and made several passes to Kelsey Smither who set-up a pass to Kati Nearhouse who netted the game-winner, ending the Blue Devils’ season.
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