After seeing their offense in full steam for the first time since early September in Duke's victory over Wofford, the Blue Devils have a chance to continue their momentum against nationally ranked opposition. 

No. 23 Duke will travel to play No. 10 Virginia Friday evening at Klockner Stadium looking to sustain its high-powered attack from the past few games. The Blue Devils have managed at least 25 shots in three of their past four games, albeit with questionable efficiency. Those shots haven’t always translated to goals, as seen in last week’s draw against George Washington which featured 29 shots yet not a single score. 

Against the Terriers, this problem seemed to persist. Despite dominating the early minutes of the match, Duke fell behind after just ten minutes. However, the Blue Devils were able to recover quickly, scoring through junior Brandon Williamson just seven minutes later. After sustained pressure through the rest of the half, Duke was able to break through early in the second half, as junior Daniele Proch found the net for his eighth goal on the year. Later goals from sophomore Daniel Wright and freshman Ian Murphy sealed the victory for the Blue Devils in what was Duke's highest scoring victory since Aug. 31. 

Despite the attack’s strong performance Tuesday, Blue Devil head coach John Kerr still sees room for improvement. 

“We’ve just got to be more devilish in our execution in the final third,” Kerr urged. “We create a lot of opportunities and we’ve got to capitalize on them.” 

That will prove especially important as Duke (5-3-1, 1-2 in ACC) takes on the undefeated Cavaliers, one of the strongest defensive team in the ACC. Virginia has conceded only two goals in their eight games thus far, and its defense poses a staunch task for the Blue Devils’ inefficient attack.  

“They are very stingy defensively,” Kerr noted. “They don’t give up any goals and they’re a hard team to play against.” 

The Cavalier (6-0-2, 2-0-1) defense is anchored by redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Colin Shutler, who has saved 94 percent of the shots that he has faced so far. Other key defensive contributors include sophomore Henry Kessler, freshman Aboubacar Keita and junior Robin Afamefuna.  

Duke cannot afford to prepare only for Virginia’s defensive front, however. Virginia’s attack has also proven potent over the season and Kerr is preparing his defense for the challenge that the Cavaliers present. 

“They’ve got some great weapons,” Kerr said. “They’re a very athletic team and they move the ball very well, so we are going to have our hands full on Friday night for sure.”  

Freshman Cabrel Happi Kamseu leads the Cavalier’s offense with four goals. Other key attackers include freshman Nathaniel Crofts with two goals and an assist, as well as sophomore Joe Bell, who has chipped in one goal and four assists. 

Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, Duke’s defense has sometimes been spotty as of late. Against Wofford, the Blue Devils let in two goals while also conceding a penalty. Kerr's squad has also looked vulnerable in games against Louisville, Boston College and Wake Forest, where Duke has allowed a total of nine goals over the course of the three contests. However, not all is grim for the Blue Devils' backfield. Duke's defense has also shown its ability to withstand pressure against vaunted offenses, with strong displays against Georgetown and George Washington. The Blue Devils will need to replicate these performances on defense if they want to pull off their first upset win of the season. 

Virginia is coming off a 2-1 comeback win over No. 22 Wright State Tuesday. Both teams carry momentum headed into Friday’s matchup, where Duke will need a strong night from its attack and defense, both of which have displayed flashes of brilliance while have also shown signs of vulnerability. 

After Friday’s matchup, the Blue Devils will take on Campbell Tuesday at 7 p.m in Koskinen Stadium.