May 13, 2009

Duke Eyes Fifth Straight Final Four

from press release

DURHAM, N.C. - The fifth-seeded Duke women's lacrosse team (15-5) will be looking to punch its ticket to the squad's fifth straight national semifinal when it takes on the No. 4 seed, the University of Pennsylvania, in NCAA Championships quarterfinal action this Saturday, May 16 at 1 p.m. The game will be played at Drexel University's Vidas Field in Philadelphia. A total of 13 Duke women's lacrosse players - and two coaches - call either Pennsylania or New Jersey home, and will get the chance to play close by this weekend.

Duke is making its 12th straight appearance in the NCAA Championships, now 13-11 all-time in the tournament after Sunday's 15-13 overtime win over Virginia at Koskinen Stadium. Penn advanced to the quarterfinals with a 10-8 victory over Fairfield Sunday at Vidas Field.

First-Round Action: All eight of the seeded teams advanced past the first round on May 10. Elsewhere in the bracket, Northwestern defeated UMass, 23-6; Princeton downed Georgetown, 15-9; North Carolina defeated Towson, 15-4; Notre Dame beat Vanderbilt, 19-13; Syracuse defeated Boston U, 20-10, and Maryland romped Colgate, 20-4. The Atlantic Coast Conference leads all leagues with three teams remaining in the eight-team quarterfinal field in Duke, Maryland, and North Carolina. Both the Big East (Syracuse, Notre Dame) and the Ivy League (Penn, Princeton) have two teams left, while the American Lacrosse Conference has one left in five-time defending champion Northwestern.

Duke In The Tournament: This season marks Duke's 12th consecutive trip and 12th overall trip to the tournament. The Duke squad is 13-11 (.542) all-time in NCAA Championships play. That winning percentage ranks eighth in tournament history. In 2008, Duke advanced to the national semifinals for the fourth straight year with wins over Georgetown and Maryland, before falling, 9-8, to the University of Pennsylvania in overtime on May 23. The Blue Devils will be in search of their fifth consecutive appearance in the semifinals, and first championship.

Kimel In The Tournament: All of those appearances have come under current head coach Kerstin Kimel, the fourth-most by any coach. Kimel's 23 tournament games coached also ranks fourth, while her 13 wins ranks fifth.

Against The Quakers:
Not having faced Penn during the 2009 regular-season, the Blue Devils hold a slim 2-1 all-time record over Penn in the series history. However, that one loss did hurt, as it was the Quakers who ousted Duke from the tournament last season in a 9-8 overtime game in the semifinals on May 23, 2008.

A Look At Penn: The Quakers enter the contest with five 30+ goal scorers in Ali DeLuca (33g, 13a), Courtney Lubbe (26g, 16a), Erin Brennan (24g, 15a), Becca Edwards (22g, 12a), and Emma Spiro (30g, 3a). Keeper Emily Szelest has started all 16 games for Penn, allowing just 5.53 goals per game and stopping 49 percent of shots. The goals-against average ranks first in the nation, while her save percentage ranks 16th. Brennan, who was named the National Rookie of the Week on May 12, is the 2009 Ivy League Rookie of the Year, while Spiro was named the Co-Player of the Year. In Penn's first round game, a 10-8 victory over MAAC opponent Fairfield, the Quakers received a balance effort as they got two goals apiece from Edwards, DeLuca, Brennan, and Spiro. The squad was undefeated heading into the final week of the regular season, where it dropped a pair of contests to Northwestern (11-9) and Stanford (8-6).

Duke's Leaders: Caroline Cryer has 44 goals and 34 assists to her name through 20 contests for a team-best 78 points, adding 46 draws, 12 caused turnovers, and 15 ground balls. Lindsay Gilbride is next with 55 goals and 16 assists totaling 71 points, and has posted a squad-leading four game-winning goals. That includes the Virginia game, where she scored in the first overtime period on a free position shot to put Duke up 14-13. Megan Del Monte has posted a balanced 27 goals and 30 assists for 57 points. Sarah Bullard has scored 38 goals and leads all field players with 30 ground ball pickups, while Emma Hamm leads the team in draw controls with 51 after she corralled a season-high seven in the first round. Goalkeeper Kim Imbesi has stepped up her play in recent weeks, notching 26 saves in the ACC Tournament and stopping 149 shots this season while scooping up 46 ground balls and eclipsing the 1,000-minute mark with 1067:04 played in 2009. She stopped nine versus UVA, including two biggies at the end of regulation and in overtime to preserve the Blue Devil lead. She has averaged eight saves per game in her last five contests.

Looking Ahead: The 2009 semifinals and finals will be hosted by Towson University and played at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson, Md. The semifinal match-up is set for Friday, May 22, and will be televised on the CBS College Sports Network. The finals are Sunday, May 24, at 5:30 p.m. and will also air on CBS College Sports.

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