DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke field hockey program commemorated a historic 2016 campaign over the weekend at its annual team awards banquet, held at the University Club. The team celebrated highlights from the fall and honored athletic and academic award winners as well as seniors Robin Blazing, Hunter Bracale, Heather Morris, Savannah Story and Kelsey Wagner and graduate students Aisling Naughton and Chessie Ruffell. Nick Johnston, the Blue Devils’ practice player and game day videographer for the past four years, was also recognized for all of his contributions to the program.
Four Blue Devils were selected for team awards in recognition of their athletic excellence and leadership during the course of the season.
Junior Sarah Furey was the recipient of the Caitlin Williams Defensive Player of the Year award after turning in another season of consistent play on Duke’s back line. She helped anchor a defensive unit that ranked 12th nationally in goals against average (1.48) and which posted shutouts in three of the team’s final five games of the season. A vice captain for the Blue Devils, Furey played an integral role on a defense that held opponents to two goals or fewer in 15 of 20 contests on the season.
“I am thrilled that Sarah’s teammates have recognized, and now celebrate her strong and consistent play,” said head coach Pam Bustin. “A player you can’t take off the field, Sarah has been somehow missing from our conference, regional and national award lists. It is a tremendous honor to earn this award on the team that finished with the No. 1 RPI in the country.”
The Caitlin Williams award is named after the 2008 Duke graduate who played in 50 career games for the Blue Devils, tallying 238 career saves and a 1.53 goals against average. With her impressive stat line, Williams ranks fourth on Duke’s all-time list in goals against average, tied for seventh in career saves and 13th in career save percentage (.735). A native of Greenland, N.H., Williams garnered second team All-America, first team All-ACC and back-to-back All-South Region honors during her time at Duke.
Freshman Margaux Paolino was named the Laura Suchoski Midfielder of the Year after leading the squad in assists as a rookie. The Villanova, Pa., native broke the program record for most assists by a freshman with 14, and rounded out the season ranked second in the ACC and fifth nationally in assists per game (0.70). Behind her play, Duke led the conference and ranked third in the country in assists per game (3.15). Paolino also notched one goal and collected first team National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) All-South Region and ACC All-Tournament Team honors.
“Margaux has earned the coveted Laura Suchoski Midfielder of the Year Award in her freshman year as voted by her teammates,” Bustin said. “Is it a coincidence that Laura was a four time All-American for Duke field hockey and a freshman phenom? Margaux’s athleticism, relentless defense and great passing abilities have elevated the play of the Duke midfield.”
The Laura Suchoski Midfielder of the Year award is named after the four-time All-America selection, who tallied 86 appearances on the field during her time at Duke, registering 16 career goals and 30 career assists. A 2009 graduate, Suchoski (Tierney) was a three-time All-ACC selection and the first Blue Devil in program history to garner All-America honors during her freshman campaign.
Taking home the Katie Grant Attack Player of the Year award for the second consecutive year was Morris, who headlined a talented Blue Devil attack during the 2016 campaign. She totaled 11 goals for the season, including a career-high four-goal performance Sept. 11 against James Madison. The senior field captain also added four assists and tied for first on the team with three multiple-goal efforts. For her performances, Morris was recognized with third team NFHCA All-America, first team NFHCA All-South Region and first team All-ACC laurels.
“Heather has certainly lived up to the forward scoring reputation that the Katie Grant Attack Player of the Year Award represents,” Bustin said. “Heather is a true forward who loves to put the ball into the cage. Her senior campaign proved to be solid and successful throughout 2016. It was awesome to watch Katie and Heather compete together during last weekend’s Alumnae Game (and just for the record, Katie scored two goals!).”
The Katie Grant Attack Player of the Year award is named for the 2005 ACC Player of the Year, who tallied 83 career goals and 63 career assists and guided the Blue Devils to a 70-23 (.753) overall record during her career. A native of Lehighton, Pa., Grant etched her name into the Duke record books in a number of categories including career points (1st, 223), career goals (2nd, 80), career assists (T-1st, 63) and ranks fourth on the all-time ACC list for career points.
The final team award, the Stef Fee Duke True Award, went to Story in recognition of her all-around leadership, work ethic and dedication to the program over the past four seasons. Story appeared in 36 career contests for the Blue Devils, guiding the squad to a four-year record of 60-25 and two NCAA semifinals appearances, including a trip to the title match in 2013. The Raleigh, N.C., native has been one of Duke’s leaders in the classroom, earning four selections to the NFHCA National Academic Squad and three to the ACC Academic Honor Roll pending the release of this year’s list.
“This award was via a unanimous choice from the 2016 team,” Bustin said. “There is no better recipient for the Stef Fee Duke True Award than Savannah Story. Just as Stef Fee did, Savannah committed herself to her teammates and to this program. No one worked harder on or off the field to bring the best to Duke True each and every day. She is the quintessential representative of our Core Values, of Duke Pride and what it means to be a great teammate.”
A 2012 graduate, Stefanie Fee was a four-time letterwinner and standout defender for the Blue Devils. She started each of the 81 games during her career, garnering Longstreth/NFHCA All-America, All-South Region first team, All-ACC and All-ACC Tournament accolades. During her senior campaign, Fee anchored a defensive unit which ranked second in the ACC and eighth nationally in goals against average (1.2). Since graduating, she has gone on to excel as a member of the U.S. national team.
The Blue Devils concluded the 2016 campaign at No. 1 in the final Penn Monto/NFHCA Division I Coaches Poll after climbing to the top spot in the national rankings for the first time in program history. Duke also earned the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the first time and made the program’s fifth consecutive appearance in the quarterfinal round. In another first for the program, the Blue Devils captured the ACC regular season title after compiling a 5-1 record against conference opponents.
The weekend’s events also saw Duke alumnae spanning a number of years join current Blue Devils on the turf at Williams Field at Jack Katz Stadium for the Alumnae Game.
2016 Team Awards
Caitlin Williams Defensive Player of the Year: Sarah Furey
Laura Suchoski Midfielder of the Year: Margaux Paolino
Katie Grant Attack Player of the Year: Heather Morris
Stef Fee Duke True Award: Savannah Story