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CHARLOTTESVILLE, VAAfter three overtime victories this season, it would be easy to discount the therapeutic nature of these contests. After all, how easy is it on one’s nerves to have to deal with one sudden-victory opportunity, much less three? Last week Virginia rallied from three goals down to gain an exciting 12-11 victory over North Carolina in the rain in Chapel Hill for the Cavaliers’ first Atlantic Coast Conference victory of the season. The tension and anxiety isn’t for the faint of heart.

But after a disappointing loss to Maryland the week before, Virginia head coach Dom Starsia calls last week’s win an important one, particularly with No. 2 Duke rolling into Charlottesville Saturday night.

Both teams have been ranked among the nation’s best all season. Virginia is ranked third this week with a 10-1 overall record, while Duke is 11-1.

“It certainly would not have dismantled our season if we hadn’t gotten that (North Carolina) game,” he explained, “but to be able to prepare for this Duke game and having an ACC win under our belt and not having lost a second game in a row, it just makes a big difference in terms of how we are feeling about ourselves.”

While the Cavaliers have not put together a 60-minute performance the last two weeks, Starsia credits them for battling through whatever adversity is presented.

“I give our guys credit for getting punched in the nose during that (UNC) game in the third quarter, but keeping it close enough so that when we decided when we were going to make a run at it that we were still within striking distance,” he said. “I thought we played ferociously in the last five minutes and I thought we generated 10 good shooting opportunities in (that time). It certainly speaks to our determination if nothing else.”

The Blue Devils have generated plenty of opportunities with a potent offense that leads the nation with a 15.8 goals per game average.

“When you look at Duke, you can’t help but be impressed with who they are,” Starsia said. “I mean we are not going to shut them down completely. We are going to have to understand that they are going to make some opportunities of their own and not get discouraged about it.”

Fifth-yearman Bud Petit is expected to get his second start of the season in goal for the Cavaliers after guiding the team to a victory last week. “He certainly earned it,” said Starsia of Petit’s opportunity this weekend.

Petit is the only Cavalier with a win over the Blue Devils. While redshirting his first year in 2004, Virginia powered by Duke 13-4 at Klckner Stadium in the most recent contest played in Charlottesville. Duke has won the last three meetings, including two last year, following the cancellation of its season two years ago.

“I don’t think I need to do anything in terms of preparing this team emotionally to play in this game,” Starsia said this week. “My job may be to try to calm them down more than anything else. I don’t think they need to be reminded of (not beating Duke since 2004) and … I am not going to have any trouble getting our team’s attention.”

A capacity crowd of 8000 is expected for the contest that faces off at 6 p.m.

Virginia has never lost at night game at Klckner Stadium (21-0).

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