For the 22nd time in the last 24 seasons, Duke will have an opportunity to compete in the NCAA championship.

The Blue Devils will look to take home their seventh title and first since 2014 after finishing second the NCAA Albuquerque regional at the Championship Golf Course at the University of New Mexico. Solid performances from the second and third rounds of the tournament put Duke safely in the top-six position needed to advance to the NCAA championship following a shaky opening 18 holes.

After Monday’s first round, the third-seeded Blue Devils were tied with No. 12 seed Campbell at 9-over-par in sixth place. There was work left to do if Duke hoped to avoid elimination at regionals, which last happened in 2011.

However, by shooting an even-par 288 both Tuesday and Wednesday, the No. 9 Blue Devils were able to move up off the cut line and ultimately finish seven strokes behind No. 1 Stanford.

"We handled the conditions very well," Duke head coach Dan Brooks said at his press conference after the tournament. "The last two days particularly, to shoot even par, I couldn’t be more proud of them."

Freshman Ana Belac led the team at 2-under-par across the three rounds to tie for fourth in the tournament—the first top-five finish of her career—and junior Leona Maguire finished tied for sixth at 1-over-par.

The Blue Devils had a promising start to the tournament, carding a 5-under-par after three holes to take an early lead and entering the back nine at 1-under-par Monday. However, as the winds ramped up, the low numbers became harder to come by and Duke saw its early advantage erased, giving up 10 strokes on the back nine.

Belac and sophomore Virginia Elena Carta led the way Monday—the duo carded rounds of 73 and 74, respectively, on the par-72 course after combining to go 3-under-par on the first nine holes.

A new group led the charge Tuesday, as Maguire, Sandy Choi and Belac all shot one-under-par to pace the Blue Devils to an even-par 288. Carta, despite parring 16 holes in her second round, let a costly double-bogey on Hole 10 push her score to 75.

"We can all play well, not just one or two on the team," Belac said at a press conference. "We are all contributing to the team and I think we’ll do great."

This strong team performance, good for the fifth-best round of the day, pushed Duke to fourth place. Although the Blue Devils were closer to safety, they were only five strokes clear of dangerous No. 5 seed Oklahoma State, which hoped to build on a two-under-par 286 to propel itself into the top six. The No. 17 Cowboys boasted five top-five finishes this season.

Despite the pressure, Duke was able to turn in the best round of every team at the regional on a blustery Wednesday, which saw consistent wind speeds of 15-20 miles per hour and gusts up to 30 miles per hour.

"The biggest thing was just staying patient and looking at what other people were doing to see how their ball reacted," Belac said. "I was holing more and more putts—especially today, they kept rolling in on the back nine, so that was a good thing for my self-confidence ."

Belac and Maguire built on the momentum from Tuesday, carding rounds of 70 and 71, respectively. Meanwhile, defending national champion Carta shot an even-par 72, and Lisa Maguire, who struggled with a 79 and 77 on the first two days, finished strong with a three-over-par 75 to round out the scoring.

Carta found herself tied for 18th following her final round, which put her at five-over-par. Choi, who played in her final NCAA regional, finished tied for 43rd after a disappointing final round of 81 saw her close at 11-over-par overall, and Maguire was tied for 66th at 15-over-par.

Duke will now head to Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill., in nine days, where it will compete for the national title May 19-24.

"We’re going to go to very different conditions there in Illinois," Brooks said. "We’ve got some northern grass growing in our facility, so we’re going to be getting in that, and this was good actually here, because even though you’re in the south, you’re up high, so this was northern grass."

The NCAA championship will feature four days of stroke play among the 24 teams that qualified from the four regionals, and the top eight teams from stroke play will then be seeded in a match play bracket that will ultimately decide the champion. The Blue Devils were knocked out in the semifinals last year as a No. 6 seed against No. 2 seed Stanford.