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Duke meets third straight top-20 foe

Duke wins against Boston College 20-19. James Lee/The Chronicle
Duke wins against Boston College 20-19. James Lee/The Chronicle

Duke heads into the weekend looking to build on the momentum it picked up during its most recent road trip, when it beat two top-20 teams in Boston.

The No. 8 Blue Devils (7-4, 2-1 in the ACC) will face No. 3 Maryland (10-1, 3-0) Saturday and James Madison (4-6) Sunday at Jack Katz Stadium. Both games begin at 1 p.m. The defending national champion Terrapins are riding an eight-game win streak, with their only loss of the season coming on the road at Old Dominion, which is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation.

“They’re really talented,” Duke head coach Pam Bustin said. “They play a very dynamic team attack with a lot of motion and a lot of movement, so we’re going to have to be efficient in our organization defensively, and then really be determined to put the pressure back on them.”

The Blue Devil defense will have its hands full going up against a Maryland attack that averages 4.1 goals per game, the third-highest average in the country. The Terrapins have seven different players with multiple goals on the season, and sophomore Jill Witmer is tied for most goals among ACC players with 12. Maryland head coach Missy Meharg acknowledges, though, that the numbers coming into the game mean very little.

“Statistics are intriguing in a game like [field] hockey that’s so low scoring,” Meharg said. “I think it’s pretty obvious that Duke’s defense is playing very strong. That will be a big challenge for us in finishing and putting ourselves into goal scoring positions first. But on any given day they could have a stream of great attacks, and on any given day we could [play as well as Duke does on] the defensive end.”

Senior goalkeeper Samantha Nelson, a Maryland native, will be responsible for anchoring the Blue Devil defense against the Terrapins’ talented front line.

“I love to play Maryland,” Nelson said. “That’s a coaching staff I’ve worked with a lot in the past. Personally I always feel it’s very competitive when we play them and then team-wise I always just want to show them what we’ve got.”

The matchup with Maryland will be Duke’s third game of the year against a team that has at one point held the nation’s top ranking.

“We’re going to be challenged by one of the top teams in the country, but we’re one too,” Bustin said. “It should just be a battle of us focusing on what we need to do.”


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