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More elite opponents await No. 12 Blue Devils

Despite No. 12 Duke's lackluster split to start the season last weekend, head coach Beth Bozman certainly doesn't lack confidence in the Blue Devils (1-1).

And Duke will have a chance to validate its coach's feelings this weekend when it tries to respond against No. 15 American (2-0) Saturday at 3 p.m. and No. 5 Iowa (1-1) Sunday at 2 p.m. in Iowa City, Iowa.

"I think we were pretty disappointed after our last weekend because we felt the games were in our hands but we couldn't finish things, so we look at this [weekend] as a great opportunity," Bozman said. "We had the games in our hands last weekend and we just didn't finish things. We need to be able to put the ball in the cage."

To energize the offense and correct the team's goal-scoring problem-the Blue Devils only tallied two scores last weekend-Bozman plans to rely upon the leadership of senior co-captain Marian Dickinson. The Calgary native has led Duke in scoring each of the last two seasons and is coming off a stint with the Canadian National Team.

But Dickinson and the Blue Devils' offense will unquestionably have their hands full with a stalwart American defense that has yet to give up a goal this season.

The captain, however, seems unphased.

"We take every game one game at a time and we concentrate on playing our game," Dickinson said. "We don't focus on what they're doing. We work on what our game plan is."

And while the offense is the primary point of concern for the weekend's first game, the focus will shift back to the defensive end for Sunday's tilt with Iowa. Against the Hawkeyes, the Blue Devils will have their hands full with last week's Big Ten Player of the Week, Caitlin McCurdy. McCurdy was recognized for her instrumental role in a victory over defending national champion and top-ranked North Carolina, as she scored two second-half goals to lead an Iowa comeback.

Junior defender and co-captain Lauren Miller respects McCurdy's talent but said she is more than ready for the matchup.

"Caitlin McCurdy has always been one of the most talented players and she's just a great player all around," Miller said. "I think you're just always focusing on your game and if you bring your best and she plays her best, then you just hope that you're ready for her."

And if Duke can master its play on both sides of the ball, it might be able to snag two wins against top-15 opponents-giving the Blue Devils the start they were originally expecting and putting them in a position to resume their quest to make the Final Four after missing out in 2007.


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