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Duke field hockey faces two ranked foes

Duke will look to rise above .500 this weekend when they take on Wake Forest and Northwestern. The No. 9 Blue Devils (2-2) will travel to Winston-Salem, N.C. to face the No. 13 Demon Deacons (1-2) Saturday and return home to play the No. 11 Wildcats (5-1) Sunday.

Wake Forest is Duke’s first conference opponent of the season.

“We want to get two big results out of the weekend,” junior Emmie Le Marchand said. “There’s also the added factor that we scrimmaged Wake Forest in the preseason, and were beaten 4-1 so it’s not necessarily revenge, but we want to show them what we’re capable of.”

Both Duke and Wake Forest lost to Princeton on their home fields last weekend. Since then, the Blue Devils have worked on not giving up corners, their defensive structure outside the circle, their communication within the circle and their attack return, head coach Pam Bustin said.

Freshman Krysta Wangerin—who has registered four points on the year—leads the Demon Deacons’ attack, as well as sophomore Anna Kozniuk and junior Jess McFadyen, who have tallied three points apiece. Duke counters with Le Marchand, sophomore Jessica Buttinger, juniors Brenna Rescigno and Devon Gagliardi and senior Chelsea Amsley. Buttinger has logged five points, and the other four players have recorded four points each.

“We’re excited to get conference play underway,” Bustin said. “There is no doubt that the level of intensity and the level of competition is going to be at its peak. Wake is always a fantastic opponent, and I think our teams match up to make a good game.”

So far this season, Northwestern has proven its ability to battle with the best, pulling off upsets against two top-20 opponents—then-No. 11 Stanford and then-No. 16 California.

“Northwestern is a very talented team,” Bustin said. “They’re going to be good in the set pieces and decision making, so I think for us it’s just going to be setting up early and just containing them and their speed too. They’ve got some good speed on their team.”

On Sunday, Duke will have the added challenge of playing its first game without six of its players, who are competing at the Pan American Games in Mexico. Freshmen Hannah Barreca and Aileen Johnson and sophomores Abby Beltrani and Lauren Blazing, will compete for the United States while Buttinger and freshman Kendra Perrin will compete for Canada.

“It’s definitely going to make the kids who are on the field a bit more focused and more on-task,” Bustin said. “It’s going to affect us in substitution. We will have fewer subs to run in through the game. As far as coverage on the field and set plays, we have everything we need to compete as usual.”

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