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Virginia takes on Blue Devils

After clinching epic double-overtime win against Tar Heels, Miller leads team

The No. 7 Virginia women's soccer team looks to continue its winning ways tonight when it travels to Durham, N.C., to face No. 4 Duke. The Cavaliers (8-2-1, 2-1 ACC) are arguably coming off their most exciting win of the season after beating another ACC rival, No. 5 North Carolina, 1-0 in double overtime on a golden goal by junior forward Caroline Miller.

Riding a seven-game winning streak, the red-hot Blue Devils (11-1-0, 3-0 ACC) enter tonight's matchup having beaten conference opponents Clemson, Miami and Florida State in their past three games. Despite its breathtaking victory against the Tar Heels Sunday, Virginia has traveled a comparatively bumpier road during the past few weeks of play. After starting the season with their own seven-game winning streak, the Cavaliers have since stumbled to a subpar 2-2-1 record and failed to win consecutive games.

"It's different competition," Miller said. "Everyone has those games that it's just not your day, but you always have to be on your game, so that's not really an excuse. We just really need to work at finishing those easy chances because against better teams - against UNC, Duke and Wake - we're not going to get those as often."

Miller took home this week's ACC Women's Soccer Player of the Week honors after her game-winner in Chapel Hill helped Virginia rebound from a tough 2-0 defeat at Boston College. With her 10th goal in 11 games so far this year, Miller became the second-fastest player in program history to reach double-digit goals in a season. Record-holder Angela Hucles, who has won two Olympic Gold medals and two World Cups with the United States national team, accomplished the feat during the first nine games of the 1997 season for the Cavaliers. Miller's 10 goals also rank second in the conference.

Virginia hopes to compile a winning record from its four-game road trip and climb a few more rungs on the conference ladder. After their two remaining road tilts at Duke tonight and No. 6 Wake Forest Sunday, the Cavaliers play four of their last five games at home, and the coaching staff has stressed the importance of competing in a hostile environment prior to the home stretch.\n"[Playing on the road] is good for us," coach Steve Swanson said. "We have to get used to playing on the road, so it was a good time to get out there. We haven't been on the road since we went to Michigan for seven days. All those things - getting on a plane, getting on a bus, playing in a different venue, dealing with the away fans - they're all part of the process."

Duke's sole loss this season occurred Sept. 2 against Auburn, a 1-0 defeat during the first game of the Auburn Tournament. The Blue Devils remain unbeaten in conference play and have tallied 20 goals while only surrendering three during their winning streak. Freshman forward Kelly Cobb anchors the stellar Duke offense and leads the team with eight goals, including five game-winners, and six assists this season.

Virginia counters with an equally impressive balance of offense and defense. The Cavalier attack's average of three goals per game leads the ACC and ranks seventh in the country. At the other end of the pitch, Virginia has allowed just nine goals on the year. Senior goalkeeper Chantel Jones will earn her sixth shutout this season if she and the backfield can contain Cobb and sophomore forward Mollie Pathman, whose five assists for Duke rank second on the squad.

Tonight's game has great ACC implications as both teams reach the midpoint of their conference schedules. Virginia currently ranks fourth in the ACC standings while Duke sits atop the conference and is tied with Wake Forest and Boston College in conference wins. A Virginia win would bring the team level with Duke in the always-strong ACC, which boasts seven nationally-ranked teams.\nKickoff at Koskinen Stadium is slated for 8 p.m. The game will be broadcast by Comcast SportsNet in Virginia.


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