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Maryland faces tough ACC stretch vs. Duke, Wake Forest

After pulling off a 2-1 upset over North Carolina on Thursday and securing a 4-1 victory over Clemson  Sunday, the Maryland Terrapins are off to their best start in ACC play since 1997.  Maryland is 2-0 in the ACC and 6-2-1 overall.

“I know years in the past we’ve had great non-conference records and then go into ACC (play) and lose the first or the second,” senior Becky Kaplan said after Sunday’s victory. “Winning your first two (ACC games), especially one with North Carolina is a good confidence booster.”

The Terrapins will likely need that confidence booster as they now face their toughest stretch of the season. This week the Terrapins will face two College Cup contenders, Duke and Wake Forest, on the road.  Duke is currently 7-2-0 overall and 2-0 in the ACC while Wake Forest is 7-2-1 overall and 1-1 in conference.

The key to Maryland’s chances against Duke and Wake Forest will be quite simply, getting on the board. The blemishes on Maryland’s record so far came in a pair of 1-0 losses to Ohio State and Fordham, as well as a 0-0 tie with Villanova.

The young Terrapin squad will look to a pair of upperclassmen for offensive production. Kaplan, a midfielder, and junior forward Hayley Brock combined have scored more than half of the Terrapins’ goals this season. Kaplan has seven goals so far this season, while Brock has recorded four more.

A single goal maybe enough for a Terrapin win this week given the performance of the team’s defense and goalkeeping units so far this year. Maryland has held opposing teams to a total of four goals in nine games and has yet to allow a multiple goal game.

After the Clemson match, Kaplan noted the importance of team defense.

“As long as we pressure and defend as a team, it’s really going to be hard to stop us and score on us.”

Keeping Duke and Wake Forest off the scoreboard could prove challenging as the teams have recently been reunited with offensive firepower that was off on U-20 World Cup duty.  Sophomore Kelly Cobb notched 11 goals last season for the Blue Devils. Katie Stengel recorded a school record 19 goals for Wake Forest last year.

The question of whether Maryland can continues its winning streak in conference play will be answered this Thursday when they meet Duke, followed by Sunday’s trip to Wake Forest.

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