With three regular season games remaining, the Blue Devils will square off against three in-state ACC rivals: N.C. State, No. 12 Wake Forest, and No. 7 North Carolina.
No. 5 Duke (10-3-1, 4-2-1 in the ACC) will first turn its attention to the Wolfpack in Raleigh, N.C. tonight at 7 p.m.
“I think it’s kind of a unique twist to the end of year,” head coach Robbie Church said. “It’s like playing for a state championship inside the ACC. All the games out there are special in the ACC, but when you’re playing those three in our state, they’re a little more special. ”
N.C. State (5-9, 0-5) has struggled for much of the season, and has lost its last seven games, scoring just three goals in the span.
On the other hand, the Blue Devils look to maintain momentum following last week’s key victories against ranked opponents. Duke defeated then-No. 18 Virginia Tech 3-2 in overtime Oct. 4 and later beat then-No.23 Boston College 4-2 Oct. 7.
“We’re playing very well right now,” Church said. “We emphasized maybe a couple of different things over [last] week and [against Boston College]. I thought we passed and shared the ball well, and we used individualism at different points on the field when we needed to.”
The Blue Devil offense, currently third in the nation in scoring at 3.14 goals per game, is led by junior forward Laura Weinberg, redshirt junior forward Kim DeCesare and freshman midfielder Cassie Pecht.
Weinberg comes off ACC Player of the Week honors following her three-goal outburst against Virginia Tech and Boston College and is tied for third in the NCAA for scoring, averaging a goal per game. DeCesare, meanwhile, ranks second on the team in scoring and averages 0.77 goals per game, while Pecht leads Duke with nine assists.
“Everyone’s in a really good place right now,” senior midfielder Nicole Lipp said. “Our two wins were different in the sense that we came back against Virginia Tech and we were able to hold our lead against Boston College, so that’s really good to see that we’re able to win in those different ways at this point in the season.”