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Seeking Revenge

Two Goliaths of the turf meet this weekend.

In a rematch of last year’s national championship game, Duke (3-1) travels to Winston-Salem to take on Wake Forest (5-0) in a game that has as much importance as any regular season duel can have.

The two squads met earlier this season for a preseason scrimmage in which the Demon Deacons shut out the Blue Devils 2-0; but a lot has happened since then. Wake Forest opened its season in style, beating a well-respected Michigan team 3-1 and steamrolling through four other opponents. The Blue Devils, however, started the season with a very hard-earned victory over a weak Louisville team, and then promptly lost to Michigan State the next day.

Even though Duke bounced back after the breakdown against the Spartans with two blowout victories over New Hampshire and Towson, it is obvious to Blue Devil’s head coach Beth Bozman that this team should have done better.

“This has been a long process to really get into our game this year for whatever reason,” Bozman said. “I mean, there is pressure, there are expectations, there is the fear of failure, all that stuff, but I think we are evolving every day.”

Duke is approaching the battle with its intra-state rival knowing that this year’s Wake Forest team is different from last year’s. The inexperienced sophomore goalie Kristina Gagliardi will start for the Demon Deacons, and her team has adjusted its game plan to support her.

Wake Forest will play with two forwards, while the Blue Devils use three. The extra body allows the Demon Deacons to keep one extra player in the circle for defensive purposes, allowing the team to protect its keeper, who is not as strong as last year’s netminder, Grant said.

To cope with the extra defender, Bozman has had her forwards work on movement this week. In the preseason scrimmage against Wake Forest, Duke not only lost, but failed to create solid scoring opportunities. The Blue Devil forwards’ hard work has paid off, and senior back Gracie Sorbello can attest to that.

“As a defender playing against our forwards, it is hard,” Sorbello said.

Duke also did not utilize its effective counterattack against Wake in the scrimmage, and it is another way the Blue Devils plan to generate offense this weekend, said Sorbello.

The mindset Duke has coming into this game is very much shaped by its loss to the Spartans. Grant thinks that her team is much better off after the loss, and is happy the team was tested early in the year.

“I think coming into the season, it is not that we thought that no team can beat us and no team could stop us, but in our heads we thought that we were a winning team and don’t lose too often,” Grant said. “It was almost good to get [the losing] out of our system the first weekend, rather than playing weaker teams like we did [last] weekend.”

Duke and Wake Forest met a whopping four times last season, with the Demon Deacons winning three of the contests, but it doesn’t seem to be on the mind of this year’s Blue Devils.

“It is Wake, so there is sort of stuff left over from last year I guess, but it is just another game,” senior Johanna Bischof said. “We are preparing heavily for that game now, but once you get out there it is just another game.”

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