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Q&A with Duke midfielder Deemer Class

Each week, The Baltimore Sun will publish a Q&A with a player or coach. Today's guest is Duke midfielder Deemer Class, a junior who has helped the program win the last two NCAA Division I championships. The Baltimore resident and Loyola Blakefield graduate is one of 25 players in the running for the Tewaaraton Award, given to the top collegiate player. Class ranks second on the No. 5 Blue Devils in assists with 18 and ranks fourth in both goals with 32 and points with 50.

How does it feel to be in the hunt for the Tewaaraton?

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It's definitely a great honor to be mentioned for such a prestigious award. There are 24 other players on that list who are very talented and have had great careers and great seasons this year. So it's really exciting, but that's an individual award that comes with the team being successful and guys around me helping me and pushing me in practice. It's definitely really exciting, but it's also a testament to the guys around me putting me in good spots and everyone working together as a unit.

How do you feel about your personal statistics?

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Obviously, everyone wants more shots to drop here and there. I've just got to keep working to always improve. I think the season has been going great. I'm really focused on Boston University on Monday and moving forward in the NCAA tournament. I'm just going to keep working hard and having fun.

How has this season been different from last spring?

I think every team in every season has new challenges. Coming from my sophomore year to this year, my role has changed. With [former attackman] Jordan Wolf leaving and [junior midfielder] Myles [Jones] having such an awesome year, I'm initiating more with the offense. We've had [sophomore] Jack Bruckner and [freshman] Justin Guterding and [junior] Case Matheis really step up at the attack position. Throughout the season, everyone's going to have challenges, and we've had our fair share. We had a tough stretch with the [Atlantic Coast Conference] schedule, but we just kept working hard and fighting through that. Those are the kinds of things that you fight through because it makes you stronger. This weekend at the ACC tournament, we didn't get the second victory, but I think the guys were really happy with the effort that we put out in the way that we played. It didn't turn our way at the end, but we were happy with going out and competing hard.

Did Sunday's 15-14 loss to No. 1 Syracuse in the ACC tournament finals demonstrate that the Blue Devils should be considered contenders for the national title?

We knew that we were young and that we graduated a lot from last year. If you look at my freshman year, we graduated three All-American midfielders [in David Lawson, Josh Offit and Jake Tripucka], and it was the same kind of thing. 'Oh, Duke is not going to have a midfield.' You hear all of that stuff going into a season, and it just motivates you. It's the same thing this year, but just at different positions. Guys have done a great job. I think after the ACC tournament with that big [13-8] win over Notre Dame, a big improvement from the first Syracuse game to the second, and we're definitely making strides. We're not going to hang our hats on a loss to Syracuse. We're going to keep working, and we're going to keep getting better, but I think we're starting to find that groove at the right time.

After being a part of a team that won two NCAA championships in your first two years, what do you do for an encore?

We're just going to go out and have a blast with it. That's all we really can do. It's such an exciting opportunity to get a chance in the next two years to try and win another one. That's what we're focused on. I'm just really thankful for the opportunities I've been given here at Duke. They were such an amazing first two years, and now that I'm an upperclassman, I have to take the lessons that the older guys taught me and I have to apply them and help lead the way like those guys did for my freshman and sophomore years. I've definitely taken on more of a leadership role, which is exciting. It's really exciting to have these two years to try to follow up on what we did in the first two.

edward.lee@baltsun.com


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