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Duke poses final test for Cavs

Virginia looks to secure No. 3 seed in ACC Tournament, defeat struggling Blue Devils

The third-ranked Virginia field hockey team will head south to Durham to face Duke Saturday for its final regular-season game. The Cavaliers are riding a three-game winning streak and will look to extend their momentum heading into the ACC Tournament next week as the likely No. 3 seed.

The No. 18 Blue Devils (8-9, 0-4 ACC) are fighting for a postseason berth, having struggled in a competitive conference this year. They are coming off a 2-1 loss against Penn State last Saturday and will funnel their attack through freshman midfielder Emmie Le Marchand, who has eight goals and three assists on the season.

"Duke is in a must-win situation," Virginia coach Michele Madison said. "We have to bring our best game to the field. We're going to look at what went right in the [win against] Wake Forest, build from there and prepare for Duke."

During the Cavaliers' 4-1 win against Wake Forest last Saturday, the Cavaliers (14-2, 2-2 ACC) took 18 shots to just eight by the Demon Deacons, while the defense gave up just one penalty corner. Madison said Virginia's performance during that contest was one of the team's most effective and complete showings.

"Our performance against [Wake Forest] was positive. We started out strong and played really fast, improving on maintaining possession of the ball and keeping things simple," Madison said.

Madison said the Cavaliers' practice sessions have focused on maintaining possession, a sticking point for the team this season. "The best defense is keeping possession of the ball and staying on the attack," she said.

Next week, the Cavaliers will enter the ACC Tournament, where they may face No. 2 North Carolina and No. 1 Maryland - the only teams that have defeated Virginia this season.

"It's a tough conference, obviously, the best conference for field hockey," senior goalkeeper Kim Kastuk said. "We know we're a good team so our [conference record] isn't disheartening, but we want to finish 3-2 in the ACC"