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Virginia Athletics | September 8, 2017

Virginia takes down No. 1 Duke with a dominant performance

  The Cavaliers toppled in-conference foe and No. 1 team in the country Duke.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The No. 10 Virginia field hockey team (4-1, 1-0 ACC) opened up Atlantic Coast Conference play by defeating No. 1 Duke (3-1, 0-1 ACC) 4-1 on Friday at University Hall Turf Field in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The victory was the second time in program history that the Cavaliers upset the top-ranked team in the nation and the first time since edging No. 1 Maryland 3-2 in penalty shots in 2001.

The Cavaliers held a 2-1 lead over Duke after first-half goals from senior midfielder Tara Vittese and junior striker Greta Ell. In the second half, freshman defender Rachel Robinson scored her first career goal to put UVA up 3-1 with 18 minutes remaining. Vittese scored an insurance goal six minutes later to give the Cavaliers a 4-1 cushion.

"This was a whole team effort today and I am very proud of the game they played," said Virginia head coach Michele Madison. "We put in a lot of hard work in practice and came ready to play. I thought everyone had a great game. I can think of at least one terrific play that each person on the field had today. We were just focused on getting positive results, getting to the 25 and getting to the circle. In the first half, we weren't getting the results we wanted from the 25-penetration, so we focused on fixing that. Duke made some great breaks through the middle of the field. If we weren't on their players, they found that open person. Duke is also a very disciplined defensive unit with a very good corner defense and a solid goalie, so I was proud of how we found ways to score."

Virginia outshot Duke 29-14, with the Cavaliers taking 14 shots on goal. UVA had 17 penalty corners, with three of their goals coming off those opportunities. 

RELATED: Maryland outshoots Towson 58-0 in a record-breaking win

Duke's Sammi Steele, who came into the game having allowed zero goals this season, made eight saves while allowing the four scores. Virginia redshirt junior goalkeeper Carrera Lucas made eight saves, allowing one goal.

After 22 scoreless minutes to start the game, Vittese broke the deadlock by smashing in a shot off her backhand side. Duke's Haley Schleichler answered five minutes later, scoring off the dribble after a penalty corner. Virginia retook the lead less than two minutes later when Ell deflected in a shot off a corner by junior midfielder Izzy McDonough.

The second half also began with extended play in the midfield with Robinson ending 17 scoreless minutes when she deflected in a shot off a corner by sophomore back Anzel Viljoen.

Vittese closed out the scoring by smashing in a shot from the top of the circle after her initial shot off a penalty corner rebounded off the goalie's pads right back to her stick.

This was the ACC opener for both teams with 1,209 people in attendance to watch the contest.

The Cavaliers, who play nine of their first 10 games of the season at Turf Field, will play a neutral-site game on Sunday, Sept. 10 at the L.R. Hill Sports Complex in Norfolk, Virginia, taking on Michigan State (3-2). Live stats will be available for the match. Virginia returns home on Friday, Sept. 15, hosting William & Mary at 5 p.m. ET.

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