BLACKSBURG, Va. – With a berth to the ACC Tournament already in hand, Virginia Tech looked to bolster its resume for the NCAA Tournament in Sunday’s match against No. 11 Duke. Senior Laurie Beth Puglisi (Arlington, Va.) headed in the game-winner during the first half, and the Hokie defense shut down the Blue Devil attack the rest of the way for a tight 1-0 victory. With the win, Tech hits the double digit victory mark in a single season for only the second time in program history, moving to 10-7-2 on the year and 4-4-2 in the ACC. Duke falls to 12-4-2 overall and 4-3-3 in the conference.
The Blue Devils were the last of three-straight nationally ranked opponents Tech faced to close out the regular season. The Hokies led early against No. 13 Boston College and No. 19 Wake Forest, but could not hang on to the leads. Against Duke, Tech once again jumped out to an early 1-0 advantage. Junior Robin Chidester (Virginia Beach, Va.) delivered a cross to the back post of the Duke goal in the 16th minute. In perfect position, Puglisi headed the ball past the keeper for the only score of the match. With the goal, Puglisi is now tied with junior Emily Jukich for second all-time in the Tech record book for goals scored. The Arlington, Va., native is also the Hokies’ career leader with seven game-winning goals in her four years.
With 10 minutes to play in the opening half, sophomore Jennifer Harvey (Roanoke, Va.) almost added to the Hokies’ lead, but her header off a Julian Johnson (Norfolk, Va.) throw-in deflected off the post.
Although Duke came into the match with the third-best offense in the ACC, scoring 2.65 goals a game, Virginia Tech controlled the first half. The Hokies out shot the Blue Devils 7-2 in the first frame and took four corner kicks to just two by Duke.
The rest of the contest mirrored the defensive battle of the first half with the two teams combining for nine shots in the second period. Duke’s best chance to tie the score came in the 60th minute when the Blue Devils’ Lorraine Quinn fired a shot from the top of the box. The ball appeared to have gone in the upper corner of the net, but had actually traveled just wide of the goal.
After the scare, the Tech defense took control of the game and only allowed Duke one more shot for the rest of the match. Redshirt senior Ashley Owens started in net for the Hokies and made one save while recording her eighth career shutout. Duke’s Cassidy Powers made two saves in the loss.
In addition, Sunday’s match marked the last home contest for Tech’s six seniors. Kim Hickey, Mauri Liberati, Ashley Owens, Jordan Parsels, Laurie Beth Puglisi and Ashley Seldon were honored for their four years of commitment to the Hokie soccer program before the match.
With the victory, Tech locked up the seventh seed in the ACC Tournament, and will most likely face second-seeded Florida State on Wednesday, Nov. 5 in Cary, N.C. The Hokies are traveling to the ACC Tournament for the second time in the last five seasons. Game times for the tournament will be announced on Monday, Nov. 3.
For updates on Virginia Tech women's soccer, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_WSoccer).