Buckley stars as Field Hockey downs No. 8 Duke

Senior forward nets hat trick on Senior Day, propels Virginia to 4-3 win

Despite nearly squandering a three-goal lead, the No. 6 Virginia field hockey team held on for a 4-3 victory against No. 8 Duke Friday night in the Cavaliers’ final home game of the regular season. Following the match, Virginia honored its eight-member senior class, including star senior forward Elly Buckley, who scored three goals in the game.

The win brings Virginia (15-3, 3-2 ACC) into second place in the ACC standings before its regular season finale against ACC-leading and No. 1 ranked Maryland.

“It was a great Duke-Virginia game, and it’s typical of the ACC,” coach Michele Madison said. “It’s one game at a time, so now we’ll rest the players and get them ready for Maryland.”

Buckley opened the scoring against Duke (11-4, 2-2 ACC) just five minutes into the contest with an unassisted strike that she sent flying from the right side of the goal. But just 30 seconds later, Duke tied the game when senior midfielder-forward Emmie Le Marchand sent a perfect cross to sophomore midfielder Aileen Johnson, who was able to shoot it past Cavalier junior goalkeeper Jenny Johnstone.

Virginia regained the lead with 10 minutes remaining in the first half when freshman midfielder Lucy Hyams found her classmate, forward Riley Tata, in front of the net for a quick tap in. Virginia extended that lead just five minutes later on a breakaway by Buckley and Hyams, which resulted in an uncontested shot for Buckley off the feed from the freshman.

“Lucy was really fast on the ball,” Madison said. “We had to release the ball to the players and generate attacks with some numbers, [and we did].”

Less than one minute into the second half, Buckley completed her hat trick off a third Hyams assist to give the Cavaliers a 4-1 lead and seemingly secure the victory. Duke, however, rallied and scored twice in the next eight minutes off goals from Le Marchand and senior midfielder Devon Gagliardi to close the deficit to one.

“We just put a lot of pressure on Duke in the first half,” Madison said. “We were able to create a lot of attack from the defensive situations. We made some adjustments in the second half, but we weren’t able to apply that same amount of pressure.”

Virginia then clamped down on defense for the next 20 minutes, staving off any Duke attempts to tie the game. Despite the Cavalier offense’s failure to pad the lead, the defense only allowed one more shot after Duke’s final goal to lock up the 4-3 victory.

“We all stayed in it and kept working hard to hold them off the whole time,” senior back Chloe Pendlebury said. “It was a bit of teamwork to stay in it … Our defense is always solid — we have a good sturdy back four.”

Buckley’s three goals move her into sole possession of third place in career points for Virginia. This season, she leads the ACC in goals and points with 20 goals and six assists.

“I was on the lucky end of a lot of it,” Buckley said of her goals against Duke. “Everyone else does the hard work and I just shoot and score.”

At the conclusion of the match, the team recognized the accomplishments of the senior class, which boasts two NCAA tournament appearances, including a trip to the semifinals in 2010.

“We’re really close friends, and it’s been amazing — I couldn’t ask for a better class,” Buckley said.

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