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Postponed Presbyterian still no guarantee for Blue Devils

Head coach John Kerr (left) said Duke needs to play well early on against Presbyterian.
Head coach John Kerr (left) said Duke needs to play well early on against Presbyterian.

Duke has weathered some difficult competition from unranked nonconference opponents this season, requiring two overtimes to defeat UNC-Wilmington Sept. 22 and losing 4-1 to Davidson Oct. 6. But head coach John Kerr and his team are determined to ensure that the rain which postponed their game against Presbyterian is the only bad weather involved in their matchup with the Blue Hose Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Koskinen Stadium.

“They have nothing to lose coming into [tonight’s] game, and everything to gain,” Kerr said. “So we know that they are going to be amped up and excited.”

Kerr said that the squad will focus on playing strong early against Presbyterian (2-9-2).

He also characterized Wednesday’s contest as important because a quality performance will help the team build confidence going into its weekend meeting with conference opponent Virginia Tech, which could bring itself into a tie with No. 16 Duke (10-4-0) in the ACC standings should it defeat the Blue Devils at Koskinen Stadium Saturday.

The ACC standings remain tight with two weeks left to play. Wake Forest and Maryland stand tied atop the conference with 13 points, and Duke, with nine points, shares third place with Virginia and Boston College. All ACC teams receive bids to the conference tournament, but the Blue Devils’ seeding could be critical in a tournament that will feature five teams currently ranked in the top 15.

As important as Duke’s final two ACC games—against Virginia Tech and Wake Forest—will be, Kerr stressed the necessity of staying focused on Presbyterian. The team’s defeat at the hands of Davidson was bitterly disappointing as it came immediately after the Blue Devils had beaten second-ranked Maryland 2-0. That loss showed the squad the importance of not losing focus on any opponent.

“We know we have to show up and play well,” Kerr said. “It’s not as easy getting up for a game that’s not an ACC game or a nationally ranked opponent, but we’ve been surprised in the past.”

And a surprise is exactly what Duke wants to avoid tonight.

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