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Duke hopes to change its season’s trajectory

Duke hopes the narrative of its season will change dramatically this weekend.

Last weekend, the No. 14 Blue Devils (6-6, 0-3 in the ACC) played the sort of game that has typified their year—dominating possession and creating more shots than their opponents, but struggling to put the ball into the cage. In its road games against No. 2 Maryland Saturday and No. 10 American Sunday, Duke’s focus will simply be to score some goals.

“It’s been the story of the season,” head coach Beth Bozman said. “We dominate teams but we are unable to finish.... We want some reward right now and that’s what we’re shooting for.”

The first game against the Terrapins (10-1, 3-0) pits the Blue Devils, who have scored a mere 15 goals this season and are still seeking their first win in conference play, against a team that leads the ACC with 47 goals scored.

Duke will look to its defensive prowess to stifle Maryland’s attack, and it aims to put a few scores into the Terrapins’ own cage.

“We are in the top group in terms of goals against,” Bozman said. “We’re not giving up too many goals. We do a good job of limiting the amount of goals the other team scores.”

This solid defense will again be important on Sunday against American (9-2), which is riding an eight-game winning streak, and has also been lights-out offensively with 40 scores in the net so far this season. The Eagles put nine goals past Lehigh in their demolition of the Mountain Hawks last weekend.

Duke will rely on senior goalkeeper Samantha Nelson to be on top of her game to stop the two potent attacks. She has had a strong season so far, posting four shutouts, with her last coming in last Sunday’s victory against Boston University.

Building from its defense, Bozman believes it is only a matter of time before the goals start to flow.

“The whole team has been playing particularly well,” Bozman said. “We’re confident that it’ll break open and we’ll start scoring.”

The Blue Devils are approaching the final stretch of their season, with only two conference games remaining. This heightens the significance of the game against the Terrapins, and Bozman was quick to point out that at this stage in the season each contest is key.

“Every game is important,” Bozman said. “We’d like to sweep the weekend… [and] give us confidence heading toward the postseason.”

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