May 10, 2009

*Courtesy of Duke Athletics

DURHAM, North Carolina - Lindsay Gilbride converted on a free position chance with 28 seconds left in the first extra period as the fifth-seeded Duke women's lacrosse team hung on to defeat ACC rival Virginia, 15-13, in overtime Sunday afternoon at Koskinen Stadium in NCAA Championships first-round action. The Blue Devils advance to face the No. 4 seed, the University of Pennsylvania, next Sat., May 16, at Drexel University's Vidas Field in Philadelphia.

There were a total of five ties and three lead changes in the game.

"When you're in overtime, the most critical thing is winning the draw and we were able to do that, and then possess the ball well in our offensive end," said head coach Kerstin Kimel. "Lindsay dodged hard, drew the foul, and finished, and when you're put in that situation you have to finish. To me that was critical."

"Kim Imbesi also made some great saves late in the game - that was huge."

After much of the first half played out in back-and-forth fashion - like the last time these two teams met - the Blue Devils used a four-goal run to close out the first and guarded an 8-5 lead heading into the locker rooms.

Virginia came out and scored the first two goals of the second half to bring it to within one goal at 8-7, before three different Duke players - Sarah Bullard, Caroline Cryer, and Megan Del Monte - scored the game's next three tallies to put the home team out in front 11-7 with 17:44 left. But the Cavaliers would answer again, scoring four of the next five goals to cut the Duke lead to one, 12-11, with 11:31 on the clock.

Emma Hamm scored next for the Blue Devils to make it a two-goal lead, before UVA's Whitaker Hagerman made good on her free position attempt at 8:37 to bring it back to one, 13-12.

Duke went into a stall on the offensive end, holding possession for the next five minutes before turning the ball over with over three minutes to play in the game. Virginia quickly called a timeout, before hurrying down for a shot and drawing a shooting space call with just 2:34 on the clock. Blair Weymouth converted on her shot to tie the game for the first time since it was 5-5 in the first half.

Virginia then came back and won the ensuing draw, then going into its own stall pattern and finding a shot with 49 seconds on the clock, which was turned away by Imbesi - who finished with nine saves in the cage for the Blue Devils.

Duke took the ball end-to-end and Bullard found a shot with time winding down, but it was deflected by a defensive player and sailed high as regulation expired with the score knotted at 13 apiece.

The Blue Devils won the draw in the first 3:00 extra period, moving the ball around to look for an opening. Gilbride worked her defender, dodging twice and drawing a foul before she sent home her eight-meter opportunity to put Duke back on top, 14-13, with 28 seconds left in the first overtime.

Virginia gained control to start the second overtime, and found an open shot with 2:30 on the clock which was again batted down by Imbesi. Duke got the ball and was able to hold onto it as time wound down, while Danielle Kachulis found an open-net look with five seconds left to make it 15-13, and it was too late for UVA.

For Duke, Gilbride and Cryer each finished with four goals while Cryer added two assists for six points on the day. Megan Del Monte chipped in three assists and added a goal, while Bullard had three goals, Hamm two, and Kachulis one. Gilbride picked up two assists and Hamm added one in the game.

UVA's Ashley McCulloch was pivotal in the Cavalier comeback, finishing with four goals and adding three assists for a game-high seven points. Three of her goals and one assist came in a second half in which Virginia out-scored Duke, 8-5.

Imbesi's nine saves kept Duke in a position to win, including the pair of big stops at the end of regulation and in the second overtime.

"You work so hard for these moments so you have to know when you go out there that you have the right preparation and drive off that," Imbesi said. "You have to go make it happen on the field, and basically today I just had a belief that I was seeing the ball well and our defense was playing great."

"We all looked at each other and just knew we had this. I believed in the people in front of me to get the job done, so I had to step up and do my part. When the game went to overtime we just knew we had to go make things happen."

The Blue Devils' Carolyn Davis went down with a knee injury less than 10 minutes into the game and would not return. Davis, a 2009 Tewaaraton Trophy finalist, entered the game as Duke's leading scorer with 59 goals and 74 points.

Hamm won a season-best seven draws, while Cryer and Caroline Spearman each won four as Duke egded UVA, 18-14, in that category for the game.

Virginia ended up scoring eight of the final 10 goals in regulation after going down by as many as four goals in the second half to force overtime. This was Duke's first overtime of the season, while the Cavaliers are now 2-1 on the year in overtime games.

Next weekend's match-up against Penn will give the Blue Devils a chance at redemption, as it was the Quakers who ousted Duke from last year's NCAA Tournament, by a score of 9-8 in overtime. Penn advanced to the second round with a 10-8 victory over Fairfield today.

"We're just excited to keep playing - so excited to have the opportunity to keep playing with such a special group," said Kimel. "We're looking forward to a road trip to Penn with so many girls on our team from that area. We look forward to getting going and our preparations for Penn."

The win brought Duke to a staggering 9-1 at home this season, and 9-17 all-time against Virginia. Today marked the Blue Devils' first win over UVA in the tournament, now with a 1-3 record here against the Cavaliers. This was Duke's second victory over Virginia this season after a 13-12 victory March 28 that came on Bullard's game-winner with just 11 seconds left.

In its history, Duke is now 13-11 in NCAA Championships play in 12 consecutive trips.

Duke will be in search of its fifth straight appearance in the national semifinals.