The 12th-ranked and fourth-seeded Virginia field hockey team (13-7) knocked off No. 5 and fifth-seeded Duke (14-5) 5-2 Thursday in the opening game of the 2008 ACC Tournament. Virginia will move on to the semifinals for the second straight year and play top-seeded Maryland (16-2) at 4 p.m. Friday.
Third-year Traci Ragukas led the scoring attack with two goals and an assist in the winning effort. Paige Selenski added a goal and two assists. First-years Michelle Vittese and Floor Vogels also each netted a score and Inge Kaars Sijpesteijn contributed two assists.
Virginia had a slight edge on shots, 18-17, but Duke outcornered the Cavaliers 9-4. Fifth-year goalkeeper Amy Desjadon recorded eight saves in the cage.
The Cavaliers scored quickly, getting on the board just 2:12 into the game. Selenski took possession of the ball and dribbled up to the endline before crossing it over to Ragukas, who put it past Duke goalkeeper Samantha Nelson.
“That is how we always want to come out,” Virginia head coach Michele Madison said. “The goal was to put the pressure on their backfield and make them play the ball as much as possible.”
Duke was able to tie the game at one in the 26th minute when Ashley Pultorak rebounded the ball off Desjadon’s pads after a Duke shot and put it back for the score.
Virginia kept its composure and kept up the offensive pressure, scoring less than five minutes later. Ragukas made a long pass over to the top of the circle where Selenski was stationed. The freshman from Shavertown, Pa., blasted the ball into the cage to put the Cavaliers up 2-1.
Vittese then notched a score shortly before halftime on a Virginia penalty corner. Kaitlyn Hiltz pushed the ball out to Kaars Sijpesteijn, who passed the ball over to Vittese, standing on the left side. Vittese catapulted the ball into the upper right-hand corner of the cage. The Cavaliers led 3-1 at the break.
“They were feeding Paige (Selenski) the ball well and into the spaces,” Madison continued. “Traci (Ragukas) knows how to read the passes really well. Michelle (Vittese) was another catalyst in the middle. They just took it to them. We felt like we were faster than their backfield and we just tried to use our speed.”
Vogels made it 4-1 Virginia when she scored on a penalty corner at 41:39. The Cavaliers took advantage of a Duke yellow card and were playing with a one-person advantage. Kaars Sijpesteijn recorded her second assist of the game on the play.
Duke cut the lead to 4-2 after a score by Amie Survilla in the 60th minute. The Blue Devils converted a penalty corner and Lauren Miller was credited with the assist.
Virginia rounded out its scoring effort in the 62nd minute. Ragukas netted her second of the game, again from Selenski, on another pass from the right side. It is the second straight year Ragukas has opened up ACC Tournament play with two scores.
The win improves Virginia’s record to 14-25 all-time in the conference tournament. Under Madison, the Cavaliers are 3-2 and have advanced to the semifinals in each of her three seasons.
The Cavaliers will take on the Terps for the second time this season, falling in overtime 4-3 at home back on Oct. 4.
“They are the No. 1 team in the country and that is what you live a season for, to play No. 1,” Madison said. “That is what the ACC is all about matching up against the best teams in the country. We did that today and we will have to do it again tomorrow.”