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Grant becomes Duke's all-time points leader

Behind a record-setting weekend from senior Katie Grant, the No. 2 Blue Devils (14-3, 3-2 in the ACC) shut out a pair of opponents over the weekend, defeating Northwestern, 9-0, Friday and No. 20 Virginia, 4-0, Sunday.

Putting an emphatic end to her regular season collegiate career, Grant exploded for a combined four goals and three assists in the two games, including her third hat trick of the season in Duke's win over the Wildcats. In that game, Grant also set a Duke record by recording her 202nd career point, breaking Melissa Panasci's eight-year-old record of 200.

"I was really excited to break the record," Grant said. "It was something I set as a goal for myself after the end of last season. It was cool to get it and kind of nice to just do it, but overall it was a great weekend."

In addition to Grant, junior Nicole Dudek had a big weekend in her own right, contributing three goals and an assist.

Since Dudek and Grant returned from the Junior World Championships Oct. 1 after missing four games, the Blue Devils have won seven of their last eight, including five straight.

"All fall, every game, she's picked it up a little bit," head coach Beth Bozman said of Grant. "There's a marked difference since she came back from Chile-she's getting better. I think she's showing her improvement in numbers, but I think that she's kind of respective of what the whole team is doing. Every game this team is getting better, too."

While Grant provided the majority of the offensive fireworks, another senior, goalie Christy Morgan, supplied the defense. The Centreville, Va. native, did not allow a goal the entire weekend and tied her season-high with 14 saves against Northwestern (8-11).

"We've been splitting time [between goalies], and we decided going into the postseason to test Christy out in back-to-back games," Bozman said. "She's going to be our starting keeper going into the playoffs. She's stepped up and she's back to form."

In their final two games before the start of the ACC Tournament Thursday, the Blue Devils had wanted to play at a tournament-type tempo in order to prepare themselves for the faster play they will see in the postseason. Against the Cavaliers (8-10, 0-5) in Charlottesville, Va. Sunday, however, Duke showed little intensity in the game's early going and entered into the half with only a slim 1-0 lead.

"I thought we were a little flat in the first half," Bozman said. "We definitely regrouped at halftime and played a really strong second half. I mean, we had moments of good things in the first half but really played our game in the second half."

In particular, the Blue Devils focused on picking up their pace and protecting the ball with more effective passing. Duke's efforts succeeded right off the bat as sophomore Rachel Link scored 1:03 into the second half, turning the pressure back onto the Cavaliers and starting a three-goal Blue Devil run that would put the game out of reach.

"We gave them too many chances to get down and in the second half we just concentrated a lot more on keeping aggression," Grant said. "They just barely crossed their 50 in the second half and we just spent a lot more time with the ball and a lot more attack."

In contrast to its game against the Cavaliers, Duke never gave unranked Northwestern a chance. Dudek set the tone early with a goal 2:37 into the first half, triggering a dominating offensive effort from the Blue Devils and ushering in a long afternoon for Wildcat goalie Emily Kyle. Duke finished the game with a season-high nine goals on 38 shots and led the game in every offensive category except penalty corners.

"We just played a solid scoring game," Bozman said. "We just were able to really capitalize on all of our scoring opportunities."

The Blue Devils will square off again against Virginia in the first round of the ACC Tournament Nov. 3 in College Park, Md.

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