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The curse of the Blue Devil

In general, I'm not one to be superstitious. Sure, I keep a rabbit's foot on my key chain and I stay inside every Friday the 13th. Maybe I've been wearing the same pair of lucky boxer shorts every day for the past seven months - but, come on, who hasn't?

So I am probably the last guy who would call Duke's recent win streak against the Cavs a curse. After Saturday night's loss, though, I'm running out of explanations.

With a final score of 13-9, the Blue Devils now have defeated Virginia in eight straight games. For the second consecutive season, Virginia put an undefeated record on the line most of the way through the regular season - and then came up short. For the second straight season, Virginia came into the game ranked No. 1 in the nation and left with its once-perfect record tarnished.

With such consistently poor performances against a specific team, it would seem Duke had figured out a magic formula to take down the orange and blue. In reality though - at least in recent games - it has been on-the-field execution rather than any tricky game plans that have meant the difference.

Where Duke is hitting its shots, Virginia is hitting the goalie. During the teams' last three matchups against each other, Duke has made 42 percent of its shots, while Virginia only has hit 21 percent. And considering Saturday saw a freshman goalie between the pipes for Duke, and I am forced to believe it is poor shooting by the Cavaliers rather than expert goalkeeping by the Blue Devils that is holding Virginia's shots off the net.

Saturday's game saw especially bad execution from the Cavaliers as the Blue Devils hustled to 31 groundballs, compared to the Cavaliers' 23, and dominated on faceoffs 17-8.

Yet another quest to perfection was dashed by the curse of the Blue Devil. And as I tried to wash the horrible taste of a Duke loss out of my mouth with an equally horrible mixture of off-brand soda and an inebriant that night, a troubling thought came to me.

Reminiscing about the 2006 Virginia squad and its perfect season capped off with a national title, I realized there was no Duke that year. Thanks to a horrible decision by Duke University to cancel its men's lacrosse program in 2006 amid unproven accusations toward the team - accusations that turned out to be unfounded - the Blue Devil lacrosse squad did not play Virginia in the 2006 season.

Only as time has gone has the full-scale blowback from this come to light. First, the three athletes in question were the center of terrible press and scrutiny as their names were dragged through the ringer. The program suffered because not only was it the victim of a guilty-by-association effect, but then the entire team - every athlete who had come to school to play lacrosse - lost its chance to compete.

Next came the appeal by Duke to the NCAA. Because the school had taken the remainder of the season away from many of its athletes - hastily and unfairly, it turns out - Duke hoped to grant every player on the team an extra year of eligibility. Now, granted it's not the players' faults that they lost their seasons, but the Blue Devils, for the next four years, held one year seniority on every team in the NCAA.

But then comes the team whose season you cannot give back. The perfect 2006 Cavaliers. Forever, next to their achievement will be a hidden footnote pointing out that the Cavs did not face Duke. Yet again, not the players' fault, but there it is.

All of the Duke players who had an extra year are gone. A capacity crowd of 8,000 came out to see the curse broken Saturday - tying a Kl

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