After a disappointing early exit from the conference tournament, the Blue Devils have a chance to extend their stay in postseason play by avenging their first loss of the regular season.
Nine days after falling to No. 3 Virginia in the quarterfinal round of the ACC tournament, No. 4 Duke will face No. 13 Stanford in the first round of the NCAA tournament Saturday at 2 p.m. in Charlottesville, Va., at the University Hall Turf Field.
The Blue Devils will look for redemption both for their 3-2 overtime loss to the Cardinal Aug. 30 and their 0-2 record at the Cavaliers’ blue turf field this season.
“It’s a new season when postseason comes,” Duke head coach Pam Bustin said. “All the work they put in this fall, all the hard-fought games they found a way to win, we have to come together and take all that and that energy and take that pride and go and put it on our opponent.”
Stanford (13-6) fired the game-winning shot in sudden death against the Blue Devils (12-6) in August, but Bustin was more disappointed by Duke’s failure to defend the goal against the Cardinal’s Fran Tew in the final minute of regulation. The junior’s game-tying goal was the first of three that Duke allowed in the 60 seconds before the buzzer for three straight games. The Blue Devils had held the lead for nearly 48 minutes after scoring twice in the opening period, but were unable to weather Stanford’s attacking surge at the end of the second half.
“We do have the memory of that game, and when we left that game, we felt like we had given the game away,” Bustin said. “We have to make sure that we take care of our game and take care of the things that we learned from that first game. We are definitely working on how we come out, expecting a high-energy, fast-tempo game right from the beginning and knowing that’s the kind of game we want to play anyway.”
Aside from the upset victory against Duke, the Cardinal have defeated only two out of five other ranked opponents this season, then-No. 15 Iowa and then-No. 14 Northwestern. The Blue Devils enter Saturday’s match with a 9-6 ledger against ranked opponents. Stanford has dropped two matches to squads outside the top 25, falling 2-1 to California in overtime Sept. 18 and 1-0 to Pacific Oct. 16.
Tew and senior Maddie Secco lead the Cardinal on offense with a combined 14 goals and 73 shots this season and will look to find the back of the cage early in the game Saturday.
Redshirt senior goalkeeper Lauren Blazing and sophomore midfielder Alyssa Chillano—who have tallied 96 saves and six defensive stops, respectively—anchor the Duke defense and will look to deny Stanford a second upset.
“We are definitely excited to get them as a bid because it’s always fun to get redemption,” senior back Hannah Barreca said. “We luckily know their game, and there are some things that we can fix from when we lost to them early in the season. We are going to adjust our game to take it to them.”
Barreca and classmates Blazing, Amanda Kim, Aileen Johnson and Sarah Urdahl will compete in the third NCAA tournament during the course of their four years at Duke, with hopes of improving on last season’s second-round loss to North Carolina and their 2013 run to the championship game against title-winner Connecticut.
“There’s no better way to end your senior year than to play in the biggest tournament for Division I hockey,” Barreca said. “I’m really excited, and there’s definitely a different energy that you bring into it as a senior, a little bit more urgency.”
If the Blue Devils defeat Stanford, they will face the winner of the matchup between No. 3 Virginia and No. 14 Delaware Sunday at 2 p.m. The Cavaliers have beaten Duke twice this season on their home turf by a combined score of 9-3—once in the regular season and again in the first game of the ACC tournament—and the Blue Devils downed the Blue Hens 5-1 Sept. 25. With two wins this weekend, Duke would punch its ticket to the NCAA semifinal round for the sixth time in program history.
Correction: The original version of this story stated that Duke's first-round game was Friday afternoon. The game is Saturday afternoon. The Chronicle regrets the error.
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