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Duke aims to score ACC redemption

Sometimes a reality check is all a team needs to get back on track.

For the Blue Devils, Saturday's 4-3 loss to Virginia could be just that-and their chance to respond comes sooner rather than later.

On Thursday, No. 5 Duke takes on the No. 4 Cavaliers once again at 1 p.m. in Katz Stadium in the first round of the ACC tournament.

If Duke (14-4) gets by Virginia (12-7), it will play top-seeded Maryland, a team that the Blue Devils defeated on the road in College Park, Md. Oct. 4.

As the excitement for the postseason mounts, the Cavaliers' upset is something the team hopes does not repeat itself Thursday, creating a sense of urgency for Duke.

"Saturday was a wake up call for us," head coach Beth Bozman said. "In the long run, [Saturday's loss] will be a good thing for us."

The Blue Devils did not play with urgency for all 70 minutes Saturday-which, given the team's significant success this season, was rare.

Senior captain Marian Dickinson, though, took care of that. Typically a player who lets her actions speak for her, Dickinson addressed her team before practice Monday to emphasize the keys to a potentially successful ACC tournament.

"I felt that there were some things that needed to be said about taking advantage of opportunities and how good this team could be this year," Dickinson said. "Each of us needs to play with the urgency to win an ACC championship and play every game like it is our last.

"This Virginia game was a huge wake up call and I think we are ready to go now. We felt that loss and no one wants to feel that again."

Although she expanded her role to a more vocal one this week, Dickinson still managed to maintain her lead-by-example mentality by staying after practice and taking extra shots against sophomore goalie Samantha Nelson Tuesday.

Nelson, in particular, found Dickinson's address to the team moving.

"It was a real eye-opener," Nelson said. "It really hit home because she talked about how we do not know if we will have as good of an opportunity as we do now to win.... [Marian] made it so clear that from this point on, there is no more room for mistakes. In the ACC tournament, it's one and done."

And that might bode well for the Blue Devils.

Following the team's 2-1 loss to North Carolina Sept. 27, Duke went on an eight-game winning streak that was finally snapped by Virginia.

If the Blue Devils respond the same way after Saturday's loss, they would not only be ACC champions, but national champions.

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