After suffering its first lost last week against the defending national champions, Duke looks to rebound at home with the chance to settle the score with old rivals.
The No. 9 Blue Devils will face off against William & Mary Friday at 6 p.m. and Old Dominion Sunday at 1 p.m. at Jack Katz Stadium. Although the Blue Devils and Monarchs play in different conferences, the teams have had no shortage of exciting matchups in recent years.
“[Old Dominion] is definitely a team that sticks out in my memory,” senior midfielder Grace Christus said. “They’re athletic and play really hard. If we win, it’ll definitely be a quality win.”
Though they reached the NCAA quarterfinals in 2012, Old Dominion (1-3) has faltered this year after losing four starters, particularly all-conference forward Martje van Rijswijk, who tied an NCAA tournament record with five points against Michigan in the first round.
Old Dominion has dealt with a number of transitions this year, including a new head coach, Andrew Griffiths, and a move into the new Big East conference. The team has struggled early in the season against the highly-ranked Penn State, Maryland and Virginia teams.
“They’re a very strong, fast, dynamic team and they’re very organized,” senior forward Emmie Le Marchand said. “If you run into a block-stick tackle with them, you’re going to fall over. If you don’t pull it right or you get too close, they’re going to knock you down.”
The Blue Devils (3-1) will look to counter Old Dominion’s physical style of play with force as well as offensive intensity. Particularly important at the top of the field is Le Marchand, who leads Duke in points as well as shots on goal. Le Marchand delivered her 100th career goal Sunday in a 3-2 double-overtime victory against Rutgers.
“It’s a fantastic honor,” she said. “You get points by scoring goals and assists. As a forward that’s what I should be doing, so to me it’s just affirming that I’ve been doing my job and doing it consistently for four years.”
In the 2010 season—Le Marchand's freshman year—the Blue Devils delivered the top-ranked Monarchs their first loss of the season in double overtime. Old Dominion knocked Duke out of the NCAA tournament later that year.
“Beating them was an absolutely unbelievable feeling,” Le Marchand said. “I think since that season they’ve always been on the lookout for us and we’ve always looked out for them.”
Duke has not played William & Mary (2-2) since 2011. The Griffins have only played one other ranked team, Louisville. Although William & Mary is not ranked and has not played a difficult schedule, head coach Pam Bustin said the Griffiths are still a team to watch out for.
“They are a team that works very hard. They’re very feisty,” she said. “They’ve got some good skill coming out of the backfield and some good speed [up front]. So that combination will give us a good test in our defensive organization and our ability to keep the organization throughout the whole match.”
Duke will focus on finishing its chances in the upcoming two games. The team is looking to regain its precision after a less composed performance against Rutgers last weekend.
“We were a little bit disorganized and weren’t playing the hockey that we expect of ourselves at this point,” Le Marchand said. “But we grounded down and got the win.”
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.