Following a pair of dominant performances, the Blue Devils will look to stay atop the ACC standings with two in-state road wins this week.

No. 9 Duke travels to Winston-Salem Thursday to take on Wake Forest at Spry Stadium at 7 p.m. before facing a quick turnaround with another game Sunday evening in Raleigh at N.C. State at Dail Soccer Field. The Blue Devils have played their best soccer of the year recently despite a slew of injuries and are coming off two commanding 4-0 wins against then-No. 18 Virginia Tech and Syracuse to climb to the top of the ACC standings.

The Duke offense has been driven by a group effort, with seven players notching at least three assists and five players boasting three or more goals. That depth has been crucial as the Blue Devils have been bitten by the injury bug lately. 

Senior Olympian Rebecca Quinn and sophomores Kayla McCoy and Taylor Racioppi all missed the last game against Syracuse, but Duke still picked up where it left off against the Hokies with a clean performance Sunday. 

The Blue Devils will have to get used to playing without McCoy—who tore her Achilles against Louisville Sept. 22 and is out for the year—and announced Wednesday in their game notes that Quinn is also out for the season and will apply for a medical redshirt. The team previously told The Chronicle that the All-American had been battling turf toe and declined to provide more information. 

Even with the injuries, Duke head coach Robbie Church has gone deep into his bench, typically playing at least five substitutes on what he has repeatedly called his deepest team ever.

“Some years this would cripple us, but we have a lot of talented players and it’s an opportunity," Church said. "It’s kind of the next man up mentality, your teammate is down, someone [has] got to step up for them.”

The Blue Devils (8-2-2, 3-0-1 in the ACC) won four ACC games in 2014 and 2015 but could surpass that total with two more wins this week, and hope a red-hot offense can accomplish the feat. After scoring three or more goals twice in their first seven games, the Blue Devils have lit up the scoreboard in four of their last five, with senior Toni Payne, junior Imani Dorsey and freshman Ella Stevens all notching two-goal performances in the team's last two games to lead the way.

The trio has combined for 16 goals this season and benefited from Duke's crisp passing in recent games.

“We’re starting to really come together,” Church said. “We’re starting to know each other on the field, the kind of balls that we like to play. We’re getting more consistent.”

Wake Forest (8-4-0, 0-4-0) will be looking for its first conference win Thursday and hopes to inject life into a struggling offense that has scored just three goals in ACC play this year. 

Although the Demon Deacons struggle to score, midfielder Maddie Huster gives Wake Forest a go-to offensive player. The junior leads the team with five goals this year—including a hat trick early in nonconference play—and will look to end Blue Devil goalkeeper E.J. Proctor's three-game shutout streak. 

Despite the Demon Deacons' slow start in league play, Duke knows it cannot squander an opportunity to add three points to its league ledger with two top-10 showdowns looming.

“We have an in-the-moment mentality,” freshman Olivia Erlbeck said. “We’re just focusing on these two games. They’re going to be hard games since they are in-state rivals on the road.”

Before hosting No. 8 Virginia and traveling to take on No. 2 Florida State, the Blue Devils will take on a dangerous N.C. State team that has won eight of its last nine games. The Wolfpack (9-3, 3-1) upset then-No. 7 North Carolina on the road Sept. 16, and will take on Louisville Thursday before hosting Duke.

N.C. State is led by its stout defense, which has only allowed two goals in its last seven games. Goalkeeper Sydney Wootten anchors the unit and is second in save percentage during ACC play—the sophomore has saved more than 90 percent of opponents' shots in league games.

Freshman Tziarra King leads the Wolfpack offense with five goals this year, and will look to work with her teammates to keep possession away from Duke's dangerous offense.

With just six games left in the regular season, the Blue Devils know it won't be long before they try mounting a postseason run to get back to the national championship game.

“This is going to be one of the toughest weeks of the year,” Church said. “Wake Forest is desperate, they need quality wins and we would be a quality win for them. N.C. State is having a fantastic season.... They have a very high RPI. This is going to be a quality game for us.”