Tonight’s match versus Davidson is not just any non-conference match for Duke—tonight, revenge is the only thing on the minds of the Blue Devils.
Last season, the Wildcats stunned Duke in a convincing 4-1 victory at home. Tonight, in Koskinen Stadium at 7 p.m., the No. 9 Blue Devils (4-2-3) get their chance to prove last season’s upset was just a fluke.
“That was a horrible loss,” senior captain Cole Grossman said. “It was one of the most disappointing of my career. I’ve been thinking about it since then.”
Duke is preparing differently for Davidson (4-3-3) this season, making sure they don’t overlook the Wildcats.
Grossman said he would be playing a more aggressive midfield against Davidson, as he did against Maryland on Friday. He did, however, admit that the Blue Devils still haven’t gotten their positioning quite right.
“We are halfway through the season and we haven’t figured it all out yet,” he said. “It’s okay though—hopefully we’ll peak during the ACC and NCAA tournaments.”
Adding fuel to the fire, both teams enter Tuesday’s match following tough losses. Davidson fell 1-0 to College of Charleston Saturday and Duke suffered a tough loss to No. 8 Maryland Friday. The Blue Devils failed to force Terrapin goalie Zac McMath to make a single save throughout the entire match.
“We’re still trying to get back on track from the Maryland game,” head coach John Kerr said. “We created good opportunities but didn’t convert.”
Kerr stressed that he is not disappointed with his offense despite the team’s recent struggles. He does not believe it is from a lack of effort. Likewise, sophomore James Belshaw chalked the difficulties up to the ups and downs that accompany any season.
“Everyone has off-days,” sophomore goalie James Belshaw said. “We’re looking to put goals past [Davidson] and make a statement.”
Grossman and Kerr agreed that they would not overlook Davidson this time around, noting the importance of the non-conference game on Duke’s schedule. Grossman explained that this is the biggest game of the year for a team like the Wildcats, so it is important for Duke to take them just as seriously as an ACC opponent.
Duke knows that Davidson will be well-prepared for Tuesday’s match—but the Blue Devils seem ready to step up to the challenge.
“It has been on our minds for a year,” Grossman said. “We respect them enough to dominate them. I think we’re ready to destroy them.”
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