The Blue Devils are off to College Park, Md. to face the reigning national champions.
No. 24 Duke (5-7, 0-3 in the ACC) will play No. 5 Maryland (8-3, 2-1) Saturday in a rematch of last year’s ACC Championship Tournament semifinal. Then the Blue Devils upset the Terrapins in a tight 2-1 contest, and this year’s game looks as if it will be just as intense, with Duke looking for its first ACC win of the year.
“We’re playing a national champion, so you have to prepare with a lot of respect for them,” junior Emmie Le Marchand said. “But we’re thinking about things tactically, and we’re working out where we can do well against them.”
The Blue Devils are coming off a split weekend, in which they fell 2-1 to Boston College before crushing Kent State 11-2.
“We were all incredibly disappointed and upset after the Boston College game because it was our first game back with the girls who had just come back from [the Junior Pan-American Games in] Mexico, and we all expected to set the world on fire,” Le Marchand said. “It’s always frustrating to lose that sort of game, but then we came back and scored 11 goals Sunday, and whoever you’re playing against, 11 goals is really impressive.”
Le Marchand helped to contribute to the Blue Devils’ offensive domination, scoring two goals against Kent State. Eight different Duke players added to the score, including redshirt junior Devon Gagliardi, who scored her first career hat trick. Goalkeepers sophomore Lauren Blazing and junior Ashley Camano gave up a combined two goals, continuing the Blue Devils’ streak of strong defense. Duke has only given up two goals per game since giving up seven to North Carolina.
The Terrapins, meanwhile, will counter under the guidance of head coach Missy Meharg who, in her 25 years at Maryland, has won nine ACC Championships and seven Division I Field Hockey Championships—including five in the last seven years, and the last two years in a row. Meharg’s team is coming off of a weekend in which it defeated Temple 6-0 before losing 3-2 to Princeton. The game against Temple was the fourth shutout of the season for redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Brooke Cabrera.
Maryland also boasts three girls returning from the Pan-American games, including junior Ali McEvoy, a former ACC Player of the Week. McEvoy has scored seven goals on the season, the second-most goals for a Terrapin behind sophomore Katie Gerzabek’s eight.
Maryland will be a challenge, but Le Marchand knows that Duke is ready.
“I think we bounced back from [Boston College] fantastically well, and I think that’s an exciting thing to build on this weekend again,” she said. “We’ve been focusing on trying to continue the goal scoring we had, so hopefully we’ll win a lot of corners and get a lot of shots off and take our chances where we can. We know getting a chance to play against Maryland is really important, and we’re going to have to put it away.”
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