With only two games under their belts, the Blue Devils are set for their toughest game of the year.
Following a pair of wins against High Point and Air Force last weekend, No. 3 Duke is set to face off against No. 1 Denver Saturday at 1 p.m. at Fifth Bank Stadium in Kennesaw, Ga., as part of the Cobb County Classic. The Blue Devils will then head south to Macon, Georgia to play Mercer Sunday at 2 p.m.
While Duke (2-0) beat the Pioneers twice last season, Denver brings back a wealth of offensive talent from last year’s third leading scoring offense, and has added Maryland transfer and ACC Freshman of the Year Connor Cannizaro to the mix. The Blue Devils on the other hand have lost several key members from last year’s squad and have faced some turmoil at the start of the season with the suspension of three key players. Duke does have the added benefit of already playing two games this season, as Saturday’s matchup is the season opener for the Pioneers.
The Blue Devils have not had much success going up against the top-ranked team in the nation, going just 1-3 against No. 1’s going back to the 2011 season, with their last win coming against Virginia in 2012. Although Duke would like to reverse this trend, its focus this weekend is not so much on winning as it is on improvement.
“Whatever the outcome is, we just want to play better than we played this week,” head coach John Danowski said following Duke’s win against Air Force last week. “If we can be better than this week, that’s really our goal. It’s just so early. It’ll be Feb. 14. Ridiculously early to consider anything a quote ‘big game.’”
The Denver game also has a different feel, as it will be played at Fifth Bank Stadium, home of the Major League Lacrosse Championship Game. Although the game is listed as a home game for the Blue Devils, the crowd will likely be a mix of lacrosse fans from across the area.
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