Blue Devils prep for ACC clash

Practice went longer than expected for the Blue Devils Wednesday.

Head coach Kerstin Kimel tried to light a fire under her team as the squad scrimmaged, calling for more intensity and better execution.

"Come on guys! We play Maryland on Saturday!" she said.

No. 2 Duke (4-0, 0-0 in the ACC) is pushing itself this week as it prepares for the biggest game of its season so far-a road trip to College Park to take on No. 8 Maryland (2-0, 1-0) Saturday afternoon.

"We're in a different preparation mode for Maryland," Kimel said. "We have more information on Maryland because we have a history with them."

As far as history goes, the teams have been on equal footing when facing each other during the regular season in recent years. Since 2000, the matchup has gone back and forth, with each team winning three games apiece.

"We're psyched to go there," junior attacker Caroline Cryer said. "Maryland always has a big crowd. We're excited to get the ACC rolling."

Saturday's contest between the two conference powerhouses will be a matchup of two squads that have displayed prolific offensive units thus far this season.

Maryland senior Krista Pellizzi was named ACC Player of the Week last week for her five goal, three assist performance in an 18-8 win over Boston College Feb. 24. Led by efforts like Pellizzi's, the Terrapins have outscored their opponents 41-16 this year.

The Blue Devils are nevertheless confident in their less-heralded defense's capability to keep their high-scoring foe in check.

"I definitely think our defense will be able to slow them down after working on a few things this week," Cryer said. "That's our goal-to slow them down."

Even if the defense struggles to contain the run-and-gun Maryland offense, Duke has its own dynamic attack that can counter.

"On [our] offense, everyone is a threat," Cryer said. "We have guns from all areas coming at them."

In Duke's last game against William & Mary Feb. 25, four Blue Devils recorded hat tricks in a 15-3 victory.

Cryer has personally supplied plenty of fuel for Duke's offense this year, scoring a team-high 16 goals, including seven in a game against Denver.

For Duke, getting ready for the clash against an electric, attack-minded team like itself, especially when its an ACC opponent, does not even require any extra coaxing from the coach.

"When we open up ACC play, it's game on," Kimel said.


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