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Blue Devils take on two opponents in 24 hours

After playing three games in seven days a week ago, No. 5 Duke (6-2) will face No. 12 Delaware (6-2) Friday and Bellarmine (1-6) Saturday, with both games starting at 3 p.m. in Koskinen Stadium.

Heading into back-to-back games for just the second time in four years, the Blue Devils have tried to use their six-day hiatus to rest and get mentally ready for another tough stretch of games.

"It's important to get an opportunity to look at yourself again," captain Ed Douglas said. "Any time you face a week like [last week], you're always looking forward to the next opponent. This week was really important for us to focus back on ourselves, to make improvements and get back to basics."

Duke has prepared all week to play Delaware and will wait until after tonight's game to begin preparation for Bellarmine.

Despite the 24-hour turnaround, the Blue Devils will hold off until a post-game meeting following today's matchup with the Blue Hens to go over film and strategy for tomorrow's bout with the Knights.

"It really doesn't matter who the opponent is," midfielder Brad Ross said. "You're going to go out and try to do the same things-stop people on defense and score goals on offense."

The Blue Hens will attempt to control the tempo with the help of midfielder Alex Smith, who leads the nation with a .793 face-off percentage.

Although the Duke defense has been playing well recently, head coach John Danowski said he wants goalie Dan Loftus, who has averaged more than 18 saves over the last three games, to shoulder less of the burden.

"The important thing is to limit the quality shots that an offense takes," Douglas said. "We really want to let Danny see shots that he's comfortable saving. He does a great job of bailing us out when we make mistakes. Hopefully, we can force bad-angle shots and low-percentage shots, and that will help him out."

The Blue Devils will rely on forced turnovers from the defense to ignite their transition offense. Attackmen Matt Danowski and Zack Greer, whose 21 and 20 goals, respectively, combine for nearly half of the team's scores, will attempt to penetrate Delaware's unique zone defense.

Instead of focusing on man-to-man matchups, which promote individual dodging and freelancing, the Blue Devils will work more from sets in order to break down the Blue Hen zone.

"We haven't seen too much, if any, of it this year," Greer said. "We've just been trying to put something in so we can counter it and be prepared for something that we haven't seen yet."

Following their impressive victory at No. 7 Georgetown last week, the Blue Devils look forward to continuing their success this weekend. Despite the stress of playing back-to-back games, Douglas said the team views it as an opportunity to prepare for even tougher challenges down the road.

"We've always focused on the way we play," he said. "If we go out and focus on fundamentals, if we're disciplined, then we'll end up playing well. That's ultimately how we play."


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