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Cav women hope to cool Blue Devil heat

The Virginia women's lacrosse team is in a rut. The eighth-ranked Cavaliers have lost both of their ACC games and all four of their contests against top-10 opponents. Against No. 3 Duke tomorrow, though, the Cavs can correct both problems in a key road matchup.

The Cavaliers (7-4, 0-2 ACC) defeated four ranked teams en route to earning their No. 8 spot in the poll, but have had a rough time competing with their fellow top-10 contenders. They come into tomorrow's game recovering from Wednesday's 11-8 loss to No. 4 James Madison at home.

It's uncommon for the tradition-laden Cavs to not have a top-10 win this late in the year. Last season's team, which advanced to the NCAA final, also started off their season slowly, dropping early games to No. 1 Maryland and No. 7 Princeton, but rebounded in late March against second-ranked Penn State. Virginia coach Julie Myers said her players are concentrating on generating more opportunities for themselves throughout the game and cleaning up their play, which could bring an end to the drought.

"It's unusual for this crew not to have a top-10 win at this point in the season," Myers said. "I'm sure they're a little shocked and a little stunned and don't quite know what to make of it, but they'll pull together. This next game becomes that much more important and hopefully it will be a good performance from us on Saturday."

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    "It's going to be a big game, but we have to approach it with cockiness and confidence. It's how you win at this level," Widger said.

    By comparison, the Devils have only two top-10 losses, which came at the hands of Maryland and Princeton. They enter the game tomorrow off a 18-9 victory over William and Mary last weekend.

    The Cavs will have their hands full when they face Duke's offensive firepower. Attacker Tricia Martin leads the team in scoring with 25 goals, followed by Kate Kaiser with 20 and Kelly Dirks with 19. Kate Soulier tops the team with 14 assists.

    The Cavaliers will counter with senior goalie Frances Segarra. Against James Madison Wednesday, she recorded a season-high 14 saves. Widger said Segarra is a strong force and positive influence on the team.

    "She has kept our heads up and she's been doing a lot of the talking and communicating," Widger said. "She's stepped up beyond expectations."

    Virginia has not lost in seven meetings with Duke.