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Cavaliers skewer Duke field hockey 5-1 in ACC quarterfinals

<p>Duke goalkeeper Lauren Blazing made six saves Thursday, but it was not enough to stop the furious Virginia offense from blowing past the Blue Devils in a 5-1 victory in the ACC quarterfinals.</p>

Duke goalkeeper Lauren Blazing made six saves Thursday, but it was not enough to stop the furious Virginia offense from blowing past the Blue Devils in a 5-1 victory in the ACC quarterfinals.

Charlottesville has not been kind to the Blue Devils this season.

Fourth-seeded Virginia steamrolled fifth-seeded Duke 5-1 at the University Hall Turf Fields in Charlottesville, Va., Thursday at the ACC tournament quarterfinals, sending the Blue Devils to their second first-round exit in as many years.

The quick-shooting Cavaliers needed less than four minutes to score in the contest and raced out to a two-goal advantage before 15 minutes had been shaved off the clock. Duke had its opportunities—outshooting Virginia 9-7 in the second half—but the Blue Devils struggled to convert on those opportunities, needing sophomore Alexa Mackintire’s goal in the 67th minute to avoid a shutout.

"I’m just really surprised that we just didn’t expect an attacking surge right from the start,” Duke head coach Pam Bustin told “We know the way they play—they depend on their attack. So, for a team that takes a lot of pride in our defense and had a goal to accentuate our attack…it’s extremely disappointing.”

Thursday’s ACC quarterfinal marked the second time this year Duke (12-6) trekked up to Hoo-Ville only to be shut down by a blistering Virginia attack.

The Blue Devils’ Sept. 18 battle with the Cavaliers saw Duke’s defensive line get exposed by a Virginia offensive squad led by junior midfielder Lucy Hyams. The Whitstrand, England, native notched a score and two assists in the contest, as the Cavaliers buried Duke with a three-goal lead that proved to be too much to overcome.

Thursday’s match proved to be a carbon copy of that midseason bout, with Virginia’s lighting-fast offense dominating a Blue Devil squad struggling to find a spark.

The Cavaliers (14-4) used a 15-6 shot advantage in the first 35 minutes to wear down the Duke defense, taking advantage of two second-chance opportunities to gain the early edge. Powered by its up-tempo attack and aggressive style of play, Virginia reigned supreme in the circle through the first period of play, edging the Blue Devils 4-1 in penalty corners.

"We allowed them to generate some momentum, and I give a lot of credit to Virginia’s attack...but they didn’t do anything we didn’t know they were going to do,” Bustin said. "They didn’t do anything we didn’t know they had the capacity of creating. I don’t understand how we weren’t there first to shut it down when that was how we had been training all week.”

Halftime brought a chance for Duke to regroup and organize the second-half surge it would need to win back control of the game. But when the whistle blew to signal the beginning of the second period, it was the Cavaliers who emerged the better team and proved that they deserved a ticket to the semifinals.

Virginia opened the second half with the same vigor it showed in the first, burning the Blue Devils’ defense for two additional scores in the first five minutes of the period to increase the lead to four.

Redshirt senior goalkeeper Lauren Blazing recorded four saves on the day, but she and the Blue Devilsdefense struggled to find an answer for Hyams—who hammered home two of Virginia’s goals, including one between Blazing’s legs.

Hyams tapped in her second goal after beating Blazing in a 1-on-1 opportunity in the 49th minute for the Cavaliers fifth goal of the day—the most allowed in a game by Duke this season.

Mackintire finally found the back of the net on a penalty corner shot with three minutes remaining in the game to prevent the Blue Devils from heading home scoreless, but Bustins’ quad will still return to Durham weighing the thought of what might have been in Charlottesville.

“We’ll go back, and we’ll evaluate it and we’ll get back at it, but [today was] just uncharacteristic of how we’ve been playing,” Bustin said.

The Blue Devils now await the NCAA tournament selections, which will be announced Sunday at 10 p.m. on If Duke is selected to the field, it will be the third straight appearance for a Bustin-led team. The Blue Devils earned a ninth-seed last season, advancing to the second round before losing to Tobacco Road rival North Carolina 2-1 in Chapel Hill.

"We’ve got a few days to work on it before we find out who...we are going to have to compete against," Bustin said. "For us, it’s perfect because right now it really doesn’t matter who the opposition is. It’s really about what we do and how we come out to play. It will be some self-reflecting over the next couple days and then putting the plan to work."


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