DURHAM, N.C. – With a week remaining before its season opener Friday, Aug. 30 against Indiana, the Duke field hockey team is set to play the second of its two preseason scrimmages Saturday, Aug. 24 at North Carolina. Duke and the Tar Heels will face off at 2 p.m. at Henry Stadium in Chapel Hill.
The Blue Devils held their first practice Thursday, Aug. 15 and topped James Madison by a 2-0 score in a scrimmage just three days later. Under the direction of head coach Pam Bustin, who enters her third season in Durham, the squad returns 15 players from 2012 and welcomes six newcomers to the program.
The group of returning letterwinners is highlighted by 2012 All-Atlantic Coast Conference team members Paula Heimbach and Emmie Le Marchand. Heimbach was also a Longstreth/National Field Hockey Coaches Association third team All-America selection last fall and was tabbed to the 2013 Preseason All-ACC squad earlier this week.
Four-year starter Grace Christus returns for her final season, as do fellow seniors Ashley Camano, Brenna Rescigno and McKay Ross and graduate student Devon Gagliardi. Graduate student Cherry Seaborn joins the program from England while Robin Blazing, Hunter Bracale, Heather Morris, Savannah Story and Kelsey Wagner form the Blue Devils’ rookie class.
Duke’s 2013 roster also features three student-athletes who gained international playing experience this summer at the Junior World Cup in Germany. Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Lauren Blazing and sophomore midfielder Aileen Johnson guided the United States Under-21 squad to a seventh-place finish, while junior forward Jessica Buttinger competed with the Under-21 Canadian team. In addition, Bustin served as an assistant coach with Team USA at the international tournament.
The Blue Devils are coming off of a 7-11 season in 2012 and lost just three players to graduation. The squad was picked to finish third in the ACC’s preseason poll of the league’s seven head coaches.
“Our number one program goal for this fall is to continue the work done last spring in solidifying the identity of Duke field hockey as a hard-working, skillful, conscientious championship team,” Bustin said. "We will put the focus on our love for this sport and our love for the challenge of competition while representing Duke University.”
Duke officially kicks off the 2013 campaign at home Friday, Aug. 30 against Indiana at 3 p.m.