There are some losses you never forget, no matter how much time has passed.
For Duke, the memory of being ousted in the 2005 NCAA tournament's second round by Yale in a stunning last-second 2-1 upset still burns.
On Nov. 13, 2005, the then-No. 10 Blue Devils traveled to New Haven, Conn. to face the 22nd-ranked Bulldogs, whom they had defeated earlier that season 1-0 in the UNC Classic. With one tick left on the clock, Yale's Laurel Karnes got off a kick from the middle of Duke's box that sailed past Blue Devil goalkeeper Allison Lipsher. The Bulldog fans in attendance celebrated wildly, and the Blue Devils were sent packing.
"Stuff like that doesn't fade away very quickly," Lipsher said before practice Thursday. "It was a really hard loss. We're always looking to beat them now."
In 2006, Duke did just that when it traveled to New Haven in the regular season. Fueled by the residual emotion of the previous season's exit and sparked by a goal from then-freshman KayAnne Gummersall, the Blue Devils took down Yale 3-0.
Despite a rich recent history, both programs find themselves at a crossroads. The Bulldogs' roster features only two seniors, and the Blue Devils were unable to put points on the board in their first two matches of the season against Pepperdine and San Diego.
Duke head coach Robbie Church said that the tenor of his team's practices has changed slightly since he and his players returned from their grueling California road trip. In order to alleviate some of their offensive struggles, as well as gear up for a team they have seen four times in the past three years, the Blue Devils focused more on their offensive timing and the coordination between midfielders and forwards.
"We're very, very close," Church said. "But we've got to do some things. We have to get more people in attack. When we play quickly, we really play well. We've created a lot of things. When we play slow, then people can get numbers back behind the box."
As the offense was slow to find its groove on the West Coast, the defense thrived. Lipsher and the Duke defense shut out both their opponents in last weekend's WCC/ACC Challenge. Already confident with its back four, Duke believes the scoring will come, too.
"We really do have a strong offense," Church said. "And I think you're going to see that come out this weekend."
There's nothing like a healthy rivalry to bring the best out of an already competitive team.
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