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Tough weekend in Boston looms for Duke

Coming off a heartbreaking loss at No. 2 North Carolina last Saturday, the Blue Devils head north this weekend to take on Boston College and Boston University.

Duke (5-4, 1-1 in the ACC) will take on the No. 8 Eagles (7-3, 1-1) Friday at 4 p.m. Boston College enters the matchup following a 2-1 defeat at the hands of American last weekend, yet still ranks as one of the top-10 teams in the country.

“We’re going to be thrown challenges and we’re going to have to adapt to some things,” Blue Devil head coach Pam Bustin said. “Every team on our schedule the rest of the way is a top-20 contender.”

Not that Duke is a stranger to facing tough competition. Its last three games have all ended in one-point losses to teams ranked in the nation’s top-10—two of which came in double overtime. But the Blue Devils seem upbeat about their prospects going into this weekend and the rest of the season.

“We’ve mainly been focusing on the fact that we are playing well enough to be winning these games, and the games are not steps backwards,” senior Rhian Jones said. “They are definitely steps forward. We’re proving ourselves every game, and, even though they’ve been coming out as losses, we don’t feel like we’ve been beaten by any of these teams.”

Boston College’s potent offensive attack should provide senior goalkeeper Samantha Nelson and the rest of her backline with all they can handle. The Eagles’ scoring trio of Carla Tamer, Courtney Tavener and Chapin Duke have teamed for 22 goals already this season. Combined with a defense that allows just 1.62 goals per game, Boston College boasts the 11th-best scoring margin in the country.

After Friday’s game, the Blue Devils will have little downtime before facing No. 18 Boston University (5-4) Sunday at 1 p.m. Although less talented than their crosstown rivals on offense, the Terriers have allowed just 1.33 goals per game, thanks in large part to the standout play of freshman goalkeeper Valentina Cerda. Boston University’s leading scorer, Macey Gaumond, has racked up seven goals this season­—the same as Duke’s leading scorer, sophomore Emmie Le Marchand.

Although the Blue Devils are focused on this weekend’s matches, they are also looking ahead to the rest of the season.

“I think we’re all on the same page that we want to win a national championship,” Jones said. “We’re obsessive. That’s all we think about. It’s all we talk about. It’s definitely been a mission of the team and what we’re all focused on.”

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