[DUKE-FLORIDA: Women] Duke, which entered the NCAA Women's Tournament with a .500 record, beat No. 2 regional seed Florida, 1-0, on a first-half goal by All-American defender Natasha Anasi to move into the round of 16 for the fourth year in a row.
Tournament losses the last three years at home persuaded Florida to play in Durham, but the Blue Devils have now won 10 straight games at home in NCAA action.
Duke was 4-6-3 at one point during the 2013 season and needed a late run to finish 8-8-4 and a .500 record, the minimum for consideration for the NCAA Tournament.
There's been no doubt about the strength of the Blue Devils' schedule -- seven of their eight losses were to teams still in the tournament -- and their postseason experience.
Three seniors combined for the lone goal. Mollie Pathman served a corner kick from the right side, where Kim DeCesare headed it back to in front of the box to Anasi, who one-timed her shot for just the fourth goal of her career.
“It’s a tough group,” said Duke coach Robbie Church. “Once we left Boston College in the early part of October … just really took a beating, and we knew we had to get points in every game that was coming up to even get to the NCAA Tournament. We did that. We fell a little bit with Carolina and Florida State, but now we go back to a situation that’s elimination and the kids … it starts with our senior class who doesn’t want to end their career. To be in the Sweet Sixteen again, is just a phenomenal feat with this team.”
Duke managed to shut down Florida's freshman star, Savannah Jordan, who finished with 22 goals on the year.
“She’s a great player,” said Anasi. “There’s a reason that she’s the No. 2 goal scorer. We were just focusing on having her play balls back. We didn’t want her to get anything in behind. If we can keep her in front of us, we knew that we could do a very good job playing against her and that’s what we did.”
Florida was without midfield star Havana Solaun, who was injured in the SEC final.