On the heels of their most successful regular season since 2011, the Blue Devils head to the ACC tournament determined to solidify a high seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament.

But the first team standing in their way will be a foe that crushed them earlier in the season.

No. 4 seed Duke will take on fifth-seeded Clemson at Koskinen Stadium Sunday afternoon at 1 in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament. The Blue Devils had a bye in the first round, and the Tigers knocked off 12th-seeded Syracuse in a penalty shootout. 

Revenge will weigh heavily on Duke's mind entering Sunday’s matchup. The two teams matched up earlier this season at Koskinen Stadium and the Blue Devils (12-3-2) were blown off the field 4-1 behind a Diego Campos hat trick. Duke freshman Mattias Frick was sent off in the first half of that match and Clemson took full advantage, running up the score.

That match marked a turning point for the Blue Devils, though, as they have not lost in the three games since, including a season-ending win against then-No. 13 Virginia. 

This streak has been powered by a combination of stout defense and opportunistic attacking. Duke has only allowed one goal in the last three matches combined, and freshman goalkeeper Will Pulisic boasts the best save percentage in the ACC to go along with his seven shutouts. 

Fellow freshman Daniel Wright has stepped up on the offensive end as well. The Wixom, Mich., native scored the opening goal in the 2-1 win against Delaware and grabbed the lone goal of the match against the Cavaliers with a perfect one-touch finish. He was named ACC Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts and will be counted on to lead the attack once again. 

The Blue Devil defense will need to be on point against the Tigers (11-4-1), who boast one of the best offenses in the nation. They are averaging 2.4 goals per game, which ranks fifth in the country, to go along with 17.4 shots. Defensively, Clemson is solid as well, only allowing 3.4 shots on goal per game. However, it has allowed four goals in its last two games and gave up a late equalizer to the Orange in its first-round matchup.

Senior Brian White will be looking to capitalize on the Tigers’ recent defensive mishaps. White leads Duke offensively with nine goals along with two assists. He has been held scoreless since the last match against Clemson, when he provided the Blue Devils’ lone goal. As one of the few attackers who can consistently beat multiple defenders off the dribble, he will loom as a major threat to Tigers’ goalie Ximo Miralles.

This matchup has major implications for Duke, which was ranked sixth overall in the NCAA Committee Rankings released Oct. 29. This means that it is currently in position to host NCAA tournament games and, with a strong ACC tournament performance, could even be in contention for one of the top four seeds. 

But before thinking about the NCAA tournament, the Blue Devils will need to take care of business Sunday against a Clemson team that already beat them once. 

If Duke wins, it will advance to the semifinals, where it will face the winner of the matchup between No. 1 seed Wake Forest and No. 9 seed Virginia Tech Wednesday at the home of the higher seed.