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Blue Devils face formidable road test

Brewgrass Festival in Asheville, NC on September 17, 2011. Josh Stillman/The Chronicle.
Brewgrass Festival in Asheville, NC on September 17, 2011. Josh Stillman/The Chronicle.

After going 1-1 on their first road trip of the season, Duke comes home for the first time to face its toughest test of the early season­—Princeton.

The No. 5 Blue Devils (1-1) will play the No. 4 Tigers (0-0) Friday at 6 p.m. in their home opener at Jack Katz Stadium. The two teams have not met since the first round of the 2005 NCAA tournament, when Duke won 2-1 in double overtime. The Blue Devils will then travel to face Longwood Sunday at 1:00 p.m. in Farmville, Va.

“We had a great opening weekend, especially for this crew to be isolated together and have some really good competition,” Duke head coach Pam Bustin said. “These kids are a smart group. It’s just a matter of everyone being on the same page.”

Princeton will be one of the Blue Devils’ biggest challenges of the non-conference schedule. The Tigers feature four U.S. Olympians: senior Katie Reinprecht, juniors Julia Reinprecht and Michelle Cesan and assistant coach Nate Franks. In addition, Princeton returns 18 players from the 2011 squad that won the Ivy League.

“We’ve been working really hard on small simple things like interceptions and different presses, so we’re really ready to come out tomorrow night and show what we’ve got,” Duke junior midfielder Grace Christus said.

Instead of focusing on a Princeton-specific game plan, Christus noted that the Blue Devils have been working on adapting more quickly to a variety of situations.

Along with Christus, Duke will counter the Tigers with senior Chelsea Amsley and sophomore Jessica Buttinger—who each scored a goal in the team’s win at Temple—and junior Emmie Le Marchand, who took five shots during the weekend series.

“The quality of the Princeton team that we’re playing will really help us raise our game to the level that we know it should be at,” Le Marchand said. “So it’s going to be a really exciting game for people watching and for us to play in as well.”

Following the Princeton game, Duke will face the Lancers Sunday. The Blue Devils beat Longwood 1-0 last year in Durham on Le Marchand’s goal with less than two minutes left.

For now, though, the focus is on the Tigers.

“There’s no doubt that Princeton is one of the top hockey teams in the country,” Bustin said. “If we knock them off then we become the higher ranked team. As a coach, I’m just looking forward to watching a great hockey game.”

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