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Duke hopes for ACC turnaround at Virginia

Freshman Abby Hassinger and the Blue Devils other than leading scorer Amie Survilla need to score to help Duke defeat No. 3 Virginia Saturday.
Freshman Abby Hassinger and the Blue Devils other than leading scorer Amie Survilla need to score to help Duke defeat No. 3 Virginia Saturday.

In their last regular-season game of the year, the 13th-ranked Blue Devils travel to face No. 3 Virginia (15-2, 2-2 in the ACC) Saturday in Charlottesville, Va. The last time the two teams met was in the first round of last year’s ACC tournament, where Duke came away with a 5-2 loss. Head coach Beth Bozman, however, thinks that this year’s team is better prepared to secure a different outcome.

“I think we are playing a very different style of hockey than we played last year,” Bozman said. “We knew what got us in trouble last year [against Virginia], and we have addressed that.”

In last year’s game, the Blue Devils (9-8, 0-4) struggled to offset the Cavaliers’ offense led by Paige Selenski, last year’s ACC Freshman of the Year. Selenski, ranked seventh nationally this year in goals per game, tallied one goal and two assists against the Blue Devils to ignite the Virginia attack.

Duke’s young defensive line has been an asset this season as the team has taken on the best teams in the ACC and in the nation, and the the defense has kept the Blue Devils in most of those games.    

“I think our defense is very strong, and I have a lot of confidence in them in every aspect of the game,” Bozman said. “I think [Virginia is] going to see a different team than last year when Paige was so dangerous against us.”

Though its record does not reflect it, Bozman said that this year’s team is the best that the Duke program has produced in three years and that Saturday represents a chance to prove it.  

“Statistically, we would be 15-2 [if the scores had reflected our dominance of games], but we are not because we have been unable to finish,” Bozman said.  

Finishing was the team’s setback in last Saturday’s 2-1 loss against No. 15 Ohio State. Though Duke dominated in both shots on goal (12-4) and penalty corners (7-1), it was unable to convert its offensive advantages into goals.

The Blue Devils have relied heavily on senior Amie Survilla, ranked eighth nationally in goals per game, for many of their scores this season, but she has been well defended recently. Freshman Abby Hassinger scored the Blue Devils’ lone tally last Saturday, providing an additional source of offense for Duke, but it was not enough against the Buckeyes.  

“We need to have some other people carry a little of the burden on their shoulders, because other teams are making it very difficult for Amie,” Bozman said.   

As the Blue Devils approach postseason play, Bozman emphasized the importance of teamwork in determining the Blue Devils’ success. She said that the team’s challenging schedule has prepared it to take on the Cavaliers and other ACC opponents. Winning, Bozman said, is dependent upon the team’s ability to play together.   

“As a team, we are very strong and very dangerous,” Bozman said. “We are not going to rely on individuals; we will win as a team.”

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