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Duke enjoys confidence boost with win over Iowa

In its doubleheader last weekend, No. 12 Duke split two games against top opponents. But after back-to-back wins over ranked opponents this weekend, the Blue Devils look poised to make a strong run this season in ACC play.

Duke defeated No. 15 American (2-2) Saturday 3-1, and then secured its marquee win of the season, upsetting No. 5 Iowa Sunday, 2-1, at Grant Field in Iowa City, Iowa.

Sophomore Susan Ferger led the young Blue Devils (3-1) with a goal in each of the games, including the tying goal in the victory over Iowa. She also added the game winner with less than 10 minutes left in the game off an assist from Ashley Pultorak.

"Ferger was key to us running the type of presses we wanted to today," head coach Beth Bozman said. "She had an exceptional weekend."

The uplifting victory was important for Duke, especially considering that Iowa (2-2) recently ended defending national champion North Carolina's 25-game winning streak last weekend.

Beating a team of Iowa's caliber could prove vital for the Blue Devils when they face off with teams from the ACC, traditionally considered the most competitive conference in the country.

"[The win showed us] that we can compete at the highest level," Bozman said. "This was a huge confidence boost for us. The team made believers out of themselves."

Early in the game, though, the outcome looked in doubt. Iowa star Caitlyn McCurdy scored 23 minutes in to give the Hawkeyes the early lead.

"We had control in the beginning of the first half, but we made a defensive error, and they scored," Bozman said. "Iowa did what Iowa is good at, which is gaining momentum... we had a lot of unforced errors."

The team, however, was able to settle down at halftime and shut down the Hawkeyes after the break, limiting them to three shots in that period. The Duke defense has been solid in this young season, never giving up more than two goals in a game.

The Blue Devils' defensive prowess and early success is encouraging given their youth. Duke lost five starters from last season, replacing four of them with freshmen-and the learning curve is only natural, Bozman said.

"Every game we've gotten a little better," Bozman said. "Today we really came together."

The Blue Devils will look to use their momentum from this weekend's victories as they transition to ACC play, beginning this Saturday at Wake Forest.


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