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In search of revenge

Fifth-seeded Duke will have the chance to avenge its most disappointing loss of the season when it plays fourth-seeded Virginia today. The Blue Devils and Cavaliers will face off at 2:30 p.m. at the SAS Soccer Complex in Cary. The match is the second ACC Tournament quarterfinal game and the winner will face either Wake Fores or Virginia Tech.

Fifth-seeded Duke will have the chance to avenge its most disappointing loss of the season when it plays fourth-seeded Virginia today.

“We got robbed last time. We’re pumped, energized,” senior Nigi Adogwa said. “I can’t even describe the feeling, playing Virginia in the ACC Tournament where it really, really counts. We’re definitely really excited.”

The Blue Devils (14-4, 4-3 in the ACC) and Cavaliers (14-4, 4-3) will face off at 2:30 p.m. at the SAS Soccer Complex in Cary. The match is the second ACC Tournament quarterfinal game.

In the regular season contest Oct. 23, Duke surrendered a 2-0 halftime lead and fell to Virginia 3-2 in overtime. The Blue Devils played their best soccer of the year, head coach John Rennie said, but the game’s outcome was decided by two Blue Devil ejections and a controversial UVa penalty kick.

“The message is that it takes 90 minutes to win a game. You need to keep your poise and composure and we didn’t do that,” Rennie said of the loss in Charlottesville, Va. “This will be an intense, competitive game and we need to keep our poise.”

The Blue Devils’ potent offense will look to jump out to an early lead again by attacking a UVa backfield that senior co-captain Justin Trowbridge thinks is susceptible to letting balls through.

On the other end, the Duke defense, which ranks first in the ACC, will have to cope with Adam Cristman, a pure striker who leads the Cavaliers with seven goals. Playing underneath Cristman will be midfielder Nico Colaluca, who Rennie described as “one of the very, very best freshmen in the conference.”

“We need to do the exact same thing we did last game except play with more discipline and a lot less fouls,” Adogwa said. “We have to understand we’re playing football and not wrestling.”

At the beginning of the season, Duke established itself as a national contender with an 11-0 start and achieved a top-five ranking before losing four of its next six games. Friday night’s victory over No. 5 Wake Forest, the ACC regular season champion and No. 1 seed in the tournament, gave the Blue Devils renewed momentum going into the postseason.

Barring an upset by eighth-seeded Virginia Tech, Wake Forest will meet Duke in the second round if the Blue Devils can find a way to beat Virginia. Duke may have a tougher time with the Demon Deacons this time around, as Wake Forest was missing three starters when the Blue Devils won 3-2 Friday.

Today’s game will be the last chance for the Duke seniors to notch an ACC Tournament victory. The Blue Devils will be looking to advance past the first round of tournament for the first time in four years. Duke last met Virginia in the ACC Tournament in 2002, when the Cavaliers knocked off the Blue Devils 4-1.

“It’s not a good feeling knowing that this is my last ACC Tournament for Duke University,” Adogwa said. “It hurts a little bit, but you’ve got to make room for the other stars to come up. Everybody gets a shot, gets four years to do their thing.”

The Duke freshmen are ready for their shot as they prepare for their first collegiate postseason. Midfielder Michael Videira, who leads the Blue Devils and is second in the ACC with seven assists, was named ACC Freshman of the Year Monday. Fellow freshman forward Spencer Wadsworth is on a tear of late, having scored four goals in as many games.

“I can’t even explain it. Dude, I’m so pumped, so stoked. Just to have the opportunity to play UVa again. What more could you ask for in the first round?” freshman defender Tim Jepson said. “This is what we’ve been looking forward to since the last game.”

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