Virginia upsets Duke 10-7 in ACC women's lacrosse quarterfinal
Duke was left feeling blue on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the women’s ACC lacrosse tournament thanks to Virginia’s Liza Blue.
The No. 4-seeded Blue Devils had no answer for the Cavalier sophomore. Blue scored a career-high four goals as No. 5-seeded Virginia kept its NCAA Tournament hopes alive with a 10-7 victory at UNC’s Fetzer Field.
“We were fighting for two different things,” Duke coach Kerstin Kimel said. “Virginia was fighting for their season and we were trying for a top-eight seed in the NCAA Tournament. For them, it was pretty dire and their kids rose to the challenge.”
Blue, who missed the first seven games of the season with an undisclosed illness, matched her entire season’s offensive output in a single game. She was recently moved back to her accustomed position of attacker after returning to lineup at midfield nine games ago.
“I like midfield, but I played attacker all of last year, and I just felt more in my comfort zone,” Blue said. “I knew I had to go for broke in this game. My teammates really helped set me up.”
Virginia seized momentum early against the No. 7-ranked Blue Devils with a pair of goals seven minutes into the contest.
Blue struck first with the first of her three goals in the first half at 23:55. Then it was Casey Bocklet, who also had a first-half hat trick for the Cavaliers, who gave Virginia a 2-0 lead.
Duke responded with goals from Makenzie Hommell to even the game at 2-2. But Virginia came back with the next four goals to take control of the game.
After the Blue Devils cut the lead to 6-3 on a goal by Taylor Trimble with 10 minutes left in the first half, Virginia’s defense dug in and kept Duke off the scoreboard the rest of the half.
Duke started the second half on a positive note as Kelci Smesko scored 13 seconds in to make it 6-4. But it only took 10 seconds for the Cavaliers to douse the Blue Devils’ comeback hopes as Courtney Swan answered for Virginia.
“I thought Courtney Swan’s answer back was the perfect way of saying, ‘Not today. Not now,’” Virginia coach Julie Myers said. “We needed a big player to make a big play, and she did just that.”
The Blue Devils, who won the regular-season matchup 13-7, cut the lead back to two on two other occasions but never got closer. Virginia built its biggest lead at 10-6 on a goal from Ashlee Warner with 9:14 remaining.
Smesko, who scored three times in the second half, was the only player remotely effective against Virginia goalkeeper Kim Kolarik in the final 30 minutes. Though Hommel also finished with a hat trick after getting a goal a minute into the second half. Kolarik finished with six saves, including five in the second half.
Duke (11-5) suffered its first first-round loss and it marked only the second time in nine games that the No. 5 seed has beaten the No. 4 seed. Virginia (9-8) earned a matchup with top-seeded and No. 1-ranked Maryland (17-0) in the semifinals at 1 p.m. today. UNC will play Boston College in the second semifinal at 3 p.m.