DURHAM, N.C. - The fifth-ranked Duke field hockey team earned its sixth shutout of the season, blanking Central Michigan 5-0 Sunday afternoon from Williams Field in the Blue Devils' final home game of the regular season. Four different Blue Devils scored goals in the contest as Duke improved to 11-5 (2-2 ACC) with the victory.
"Senior Day for a coach is always a little bit scary since emotions are high," said head coach Pam Bustin. "[The players] have just enjoyed this season and have been working so hard. I know they wanted to bring an extraordinary performance to the field today. As coaches, we're telling them to keep it like we have and to keep it in perspective. I thought we did that in the second half. The first half looked like we were trying too hard, but we found our rhythm in the second half."
Duke controlled the game from the start, only allowing CMU (8-8, 5-2 MAC) four shots for the match with three of those coming in the first half. The Blue Devils' six shutouts this season marks the team's highest total since matching that mark in the 2008 campaign.
The Blue Devils got on the board in the 23rd minute as sophomore Caashia Karringten redirected a cross from senior Tara Jennings into the cage to put Duke up 1-0. Karringten finished the game with two goals, her second and third of the season, both assisted by Jennings.
Three minutes later, sophomore Emmie Le Marchand, Duke's leader with 13 goals this season, tipped in a pass from junior Devon Gagliardi to make to 2-0 in favor of the Blue Devils. Duke would take the two-goal margin into halftime after the Blue Devils outshot the Chippewas 11-3 in the opening stanza.
The Blue Devils picked up the level of play in the second half, resulting in a Karringten deflection off a Jennings' cross for her second goal of the game to extend Duke's lead to 3-0 with just over 25 minutes to play.
Freshman Jessica Buttinger scored her fourth goal of the season following a rebound in the circle in the 63rd minute, and junior Mary Nielsen added the final goal of the afternoon, redirecting a penalty corner shot from senior Rhian Jones.
"[The seniors] have just been awesome," said Bustin. "They welcomed what we brought to this program with open arms and they've been really selfless in the process. They have definitely been the leaders on this team in a positive direction. I'm very grateful for that and I feel very fortunate that I've had the privilege and the opportunity to work with such a talented and awesome group of kids."
The Blue Devils close out the regular season on the road, traveling to Virginia Saturday, Oct. 29 for a 1 p.m., match with the Cavaliers in Charlottesville.