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Archive for May 20, 2007

May 20, 2007 — The Final Four — Inside Duke

Today, we give you our take on the second seed.

Duke Blue Devils

How they got here: Received at-large bid on the strength of a 14-3 record and a 4-1 record against Atlantic Coast Conference competition, despite being bounced from the ACC Tournament at the hands of North Carolina.

Road to Philadelphia: Thumped LeMoyne 23-7 in the first round, then outlasted Johns Hopkins 12-7 in the quarterfinal round.

“Statement” win: Defeated Virginia 19-18 (2 OT) on March 31.

Against the Final Four Field: Defeated Virginia 19-18 (2 OT), lost 17-5 to Northwestern.

When Duke Has The Ball: Duke has scored 18 goals on six occasions this season. Former U-19 World Cup champion Kristen Waagbo (43 goals, 42 assists) is the focus, while Leigh Jester (40-27) and Caroline Cryer (67-17) help form a formidable attack unit.

When Duke Doesn’t Have The Ball: Defense has been head coach Kerstin Kimel’s strength over the years. Yet, nine times this season, opponents have scored 10 or more goals in a game. Too, opponents are shooting 75.1 percent against the Devils’ cage. Christina Germinario, Kim Imbesi, Meghan Ferguson and Alyana Newton are going to have to find a way to limit opposing shots.

The Skinny: Duke came into last year’s tournament on a mission, daring to wear the word “INNOCENT” on sweatbands to support their bretheren on the men’s team. Though the tactic didn’t work on the weekend, losing to Dartmouth in the semifinal round, the team’s cohesion has held firm this season.

The loss to North Carolina in the ACCs was certainly a wake-up call, further accentuated by a win over Dartmouth that saw Duke yield 14 goals.

The Judgment: The Blue Devils have the capability to play the speed game or the execution game. They will need plenty of both to get past Virginia in the semifinal round. It will be extremely interesting to see if this winds up being another shootout, or whether either team will seek to take the air out of the ball.

If the Blue Devils manage to get past Virginia, they will either have to play host Penn or defending champion Northwestern. In other words, if they win the tournament, it will certainly be well-earned.