Duke faced Wake Forest three times in the 2011 season, more than any other opponent. The Blue Devils defeated the Demon Deacons 2-0 during the regular season, lost 2-1 in the ACC tournament semifinals and overcame these familiar foes 4-1 to advance to the College Cup final.
In its penultimate ACC matchup, No. 5 Duke (11-3-1, 5-2-1 in the ACC) will host No. 12 Wake Forest (10-3-2, 4-2-0) for their fourth encounter in less than a year Sunday at Koskinen Stadium at 1 p.m.
Duke will once again rely on junior Laura Weinberg, who is having a career year, averaging a goal per game. Weinberg’s two strikes in Winston-Salem took down the Demon Deacons last year in the regular-season matchup between the two teams.
When the Blue Devils and Wake Forest met again in the conference championship, the Demon Deacons came away with the win to advance to the final. Duke’s Kelly Cobb narrowly missed an equalizer in the dying minutes. The Blue Devils then asserted their dominance in Kennesaw, Ga. with a comprehensive victory.
As evidenced by these past results, Sunday’s game will likely be a tight one.
After a difficult start to the season, including an upset at home to UNC Greensboro, Wake Forest appears to be back to its 2011 form. Last Friday the Demon Deacons rallied to beat then-No.6 Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. 2-1.
This game will pit the conference-leading offense of Duke, scorers of 46 goals in 2012, against a Wake Forest team that has only conceded just nine goals this season. The Blue Devils, on the other hand, have conceded 18 goals thus far, with the Demon Deacons scoring a mere 23 goals.
Wake Forest is led by senior Kristen Meier and junior Katie Stengel with four goals each. Stengel and Meier, however, have never scored against Duke. The Blue Devils will be more wary of junior Rachel Nuzzolese, who has scored four goals against Duke in her career.
Stengel’s four goals were recorded in seven contests after returning from the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, where she was a teammate of the Blue Devils’ Cobb and Mollie Pathman. Both Cobb and Pathman have said that it will be strange to compete against their fellow World Cup-winning teammates. With the conference schedule nearing its conclusion, this game can go a long way in deciding the final standings and seeding in the ACC tournament. Duke and Wake Forest currently hold the third and fourth spots in the conference, respectively, with Virginia and North Carolina one win behind.
With the top four seeds hosting quarterfinal matches a win might be the only result that is enough as these teams attempt to build on last season’s successes.