Duke heads into its final weekend before ACC play, carrying the momentum from the team’s USC Futbol Classic win last weekend. The No. 4 Blue Devils kick off the Duke Nike Classic at Koskinen Stadium with San Diego on Friday at 7:30 p.m. followed by No. 12 Marquette on Sunday at 1:30 p.m.
After losing to Florida two weeks ago, Duke bounced back, beating Southern California 2-1 in a comeback victory before dismantling Washington State 4-0 in what was their most complete game of the season so far. Without key players Kelly Cobb and Mollie Pathman, who are competing for the United States in the U-20 World Cup in Japan, the Blue Devils hope to close out the non-conference portion of their schedule with only one loss. Both Cobb and Pathman will return next week.
“We are obviously coming off of two big wins. Our goal for last weekend was to win those two games and the USC tournament, and that is kind of our mindset going into our tournament,” junior forward Laura Weinberg said. “Our goal is to always win those two games, win our tournament on our home field. So we have just been working really hard together to carry that momentum from last weekend into this weekend.”
While in California, Duke (4-1) had the chance to scout the Toreros (3-3), who also competed in the USC Futbol Classic. San Diego went 1-1 in the tournament, sliding past Southern California 2-1 in the final minutes before losing to Washington State 2-1 on Sunday. The last time the Blue Devils met the Toreros was in 2007 when the game ended in a 0-0 draw.
“Every game is a different game and you cant really go by the scores,” head coach Robbie Church said. “Fridays you get a team’s best shot because everybody is fresher. Sunday comes less than 48 hours from when you last played, so unless you are deep, that is tough to do.”
The Toreros, however, are not the toughest foe for Duke this weekend. For just the second time this season, the Blue Devils will play a top-25 ranked team. Marquette (3-0-1) has yet to allow a goal this season, shutting out all the teams it has played. In return, they have netted 20 goals. The only other ranked team that the Blue Devils have played this season is Florida, which handed them their only defeat in an overtime thriller.
“Year in and year out Marquette is one of the elite programs,” Church said. “They are a big team, a physical team. They are a hardworking team and a mentally tough team so I think playing Friday night and then turning around and playing Sunday afternoon we are going to have to be mentally tough. We are going to have to really move the ball against them, and we are really going to have to attack them. Our offense, which has scored a lot of goals early in the season will have a great challenge playing a defense that hasn’t given up any goals this year.”
Besides securing another two victories and winning a second consecutive tournament, Duke hopes to gain momentum going into the beginning of their ACC games. Both San Diego and Marquette will provide a chance for the Blue Devils to assess their game as they begin conference play against top-ranked Florida State next week.
“It’s important that we are really playing our best soccer going into the ACC,” Church said. “These are kind of the last games we have, and I think it’s important that we are playing well in all areas—offensively, defensively and on set plays. And I think we are starting to play well.”