DURHAM, N.C. - Despite concluding the 2012 campaign two weeks ago, the Duke field hockey team continued to train as the squad prepares for the start of a promising 2013 season. The Blue Devils will open the next season with an experienced team, returning 16 of the 19 members of the 2012 squad, including All-ACC honorees Emmie Le Marchand and Paula Heimbach.
The Blue Devils ended the season with a 7-11 overall record, however, 10 of the 11 season losses came to opponents ranked in the top-25. The Blue Devils were faced with adversity throughout the season including the loss of six teammates for five games due to the Junior Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. While the six Blue Devils were competing for their countries, younger players on the team used the opening as a great opportunity to contribute to the team and gain experience.
"As a program, I think we took strides forward," said head coach Pam Bustin. "Even though we are disappointed in the record and are disappointed in some of the results overall, the program definitely has grown and our identity has become clearer as we go, so todays training was really important and significant in how we move forward into 2013."
After falling to reigning national champion Maryland in the ACC Tournament, the team voted to continue practicing for two more weeks in preparation for next season.
"Overall we are disappointed that we are not going to play in the [NCAA] tournament, but we are all here ready and excited to be more disciplined and are already excited for next year," said junior Devon Gagliardi. "We took a lot of good things from this season. We got experience, the freshman got experience, and our goalie got another year of experience. I think we are all really excited and really dedicated to making it a great year."
Juniors Le Marchand and Heimbach both earned All-ACC honors for their impressive play this season, while senior Abby Hassinger was named to ACC All-Tournament team as well as invited to play in the NFHCA Division I Senior Game.
Le Marchand was one of Duke's most consistent performers, ending the season with 11 goals and five assists giving her a team-leading 27 points and moving her into 13th place on Duke's individual career points list with a total of 91. In addition, Le Marchand has moved into a tie for 11th place on the career goals list, currently owning 38.
While these six were away representing their countries, the remaining 13 Blue Devils stayed focused on their five game home stand at Williams Field. Duke finished that slate with a 2-3 record, including wins over Richmond and 15th-ranked Michigan State. Duke's 4-2 victory over the Spartans proved to be one of the key games of the season for the Blue Devils with senior Mary Nielsen contributing two goals along while juniors McKay Ross and Le Marchand add one apiece.
"We are a bit different from maybe some other programs where each person's energy, attitude, preparation has an impact on this team," said Bustin. "We are not a roster of 30 where you could look over somebody, it is everyone that matters, and that is something that we are going to have to embrace as we move forward into spring training."
In addition to rising senior Le Marchand, the Blue Devils will open the 2013 campaign with six other seniors, including the team's 2012 captain Gagliardi.
"I was captain this year, and having that year of experience, I think next year I can do a better job," commented Gagliardi. "Next year we will not be as young. We will have seven seniors so I think we are all really excited and really dedicated to making it a great year."
"We were very fortunate to experience the season that we did a year ago," added Bustin. "I think that gave us a false simplicity to how it happens, when it reality it is not [that simple]. It takes a lot of work and a lot of focus and I think we put the emphasis on the importance of owning it every day, taking care of business every day, and I think this group has definitely realized that and I think they are committed to making those changes as we move forward."
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