In three years, the Duke soccer team has gone from being the worst team in the Atlantic Coast Conference to being the best team in the nation, thanks in part to several Washington area players.

The Blue Devils, who will play Maryland today at College Park at 1 p.m., are currently ranked No. 1 in the country with an 11-0 record. Three local players -- Whitman's Mike Jeffries, W.T. Woodson's Charlie Guevara and McLean's Paul Ahearne -- are starters, and Wheaton's Doug Hoffman is a reserve.

"It's nice being No. 1, but it doesn't mean a whole lot right now," said Jeffries, a junior midfielder who has three goals and three assists. "Being on top is very temporary. Right now, it is just part of a basic opinion poll."

Duke, which finished last season with a 16-4 record before losing in the first round of the NCAA playoffs, has become a national power quickly. John Rennie, who took over as coach in 1979, has recruited heavily in the D.C. area, and has built a fast, highly skilled team.

"We can score goals in no time at all," said Guevara, who scored eight goals last year and already has three this fall. "I wouldn't want to be the other team's defense. We are very explosive."

The Blue Devils have outshot opponents, 255-84, this season, and hold a 36-5 advantage in goals. Bob Jenkins leads the team with nine goals and Tom Kain, a member of the national team, has six. Twelve different players have scored this season.

Defensively, goalkeeper Pat Johnston has allowed five goals and has made 47 saves with seven shutouts.

Maryland, which has not won an ACC game since 1978, is 5-3-1 and has not lost in three straight games. The Terrapins are led offensively by Jay Casagranda and Doug Howland, who have four goals each, and playmaker Ed Gauss, who has seven assists. In goal, Ken Wilkerson (three shutouts) and Mark MacLaughlin (two shutouts) have split time.