DURHAM, N.C. – Senior forward Emmie Le Marchand notched her first hat trick of the season to power the fifth-ranked and fourth-seeded Duke field hockey team to a 6-1 victory over No. 16 New Hampshire in the first round of the 2013 NCAA Championship Saturday afternoon at Williams Field at Jack Katz Stadium.
The Blue Devils improved to 15-6 overall and move on to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship, where they will face No. 10 Massachusetts Sunday, Nov. 17 at 2 p.m. at Jack Katz Stadium. The Minutewomen (19-4) advanced with a 4-3 overtime upset of seventh-ranked Virginia Saturday afternoon in Durham.
The first half was a back-and-forth affair, with most of the action taking place between the 25-yard lines. Le Marchand initiated the scoring in the 10th minute and freshman Heather Morris added another tally in the 26th minute to give Duke an early 2-0 advantage.
“We sort of struggled the first half of the season with making a really good impression early on and that’s something we’ve been working on for the last however many games now,” Le Marchand. “It’s always a big confidence boost to get a goal so early on and it set the tone. When you play with confidence, we know that we can play the kind of hockey that we’ve been practicing.”
The Wildcats responded just before the break when Meg Flatley found teammate Hannah Richard in front of the cage to cut the lead in half.
Freshman Hunter Bracale earned the first goal of her collegiate career 10 minutes into the second period, diving to tap in a feed from redshirt senior Devon Gagliardi. Bracale’s score put the Blue Devils back up by two before Le Marchand put in a cross from Gagliardi to make it 4-1 midway through the half.
A Duke penalty corner in the 62nd minute featured quick rotation of the ball around the circle and junior Abby Beltrani finished for her third goal of the season while Le Marchand and senior Paula Heimbach were credited with assists. Le Marchand then completed her hat trick with an unassisted score in the 66th minute to seal the first round win.
“UNH is a great team,” said head coach Pam Bustin. “We knew that we were going to have our hands full if we let them gain some momentum, and we did let them gain some momentum at the end of that first half … I think at halftime we regrouped, went out there and brought the same game plan we had the first half, but we were much more disciplined and much more determined to play together within that game plan. Fortunately it created some more attacking and scoring opportunities for us.”
Le Marchand matched a career-best performance with seven points (3g, 1a) on the day. The native of Worcester, England moved into sixth place on Duke’s all-time chart for career points with 132 and also jumped to seventh place on the program’s list for career goals with 53.
Five other Blue Devils added points as the home squad outshot the Wildcats, 18-9, and held a 4-2 advantage in penalty corners for the contest. Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Lauren Blazing made two saves while Carlie Tarbell totaled 10 stops in goal for New Hampshire.
With the win, Duke improved to 16-11 all-time in NCAA Championship games and 9-3 in first round matchups. The Blue Devils will meet Massachusetts for the first time in the postseason and just the third time in program history Sunday when Bustin goes up against her alma mater at 2 p.m. at Williams Field at Jack Katz Stadium. Live video and live stats will be available for the quarterfinal contest.