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Beth Bozman came to Duke last season and took the team its first Final Four in her first season as head coach. After losing to Wake Forest in the National Championship game, this team is determined to make it back again and this time win it all. A talented group of seniors lead the charge for the �04 squad.

Duke’s dazzling run last year deep into the postseason will be a hard act to follow.

In Duke’s first season with head coach Beth Bozman at the helm, the squad grabbed the fall sports spotlight. After 15 successful years as the head coach at Princeton, Bozman came to Duke and implemented a fast style of play—and the team responded. The Blue Devils had their best season ever, compiling an impressive 20-4 record and setting new standards for their program. Duke reached both the ACC and the NCAA title games, losing to Wake Forest on both occasions after the teams split their two regular season matchups. But will there be an encore performance this year?

Bozman is convinced her team is primed for another strong campaign, despite a 2-0 preseason loss to the Demon Deacons last weekend.

“We came in thinking that we were definitely weeks ahead of where we were last year, which we hoped we would be because we gained so much last season,” said Bozman.

Even though the team now has the experience of a national championship run, there are several key components missing from last year. An important part of Bozman’s strategy is an aggressive counter-attack, and many of the graduated seniors made big contributions by disrupting passing lanes and moving the ball down the field. Six freshmen and Cara-Lynn Lopresti, a sophomore transfer from Stanford, are expected to help fill the gaps.

Duke’s counter-attack and general game plan looked shaky during its scrimmage against the Demon Deacons, but Bozman expects her new players to step up when the regular season rolls around.

“Obviously we were worried with Kim Van Kirk, Kim Gogola and Jessica Fluck graduating, and with what kind of void they’d create,” Bozman said. “But we’ve been really happy. The freshmen have far surpassed our expectations. I think they came back really fit. We knew that they would be talented, but they’re better than we thought they would be.”

Defense has been a bigger emphasis than the counter-attack during the off-season. Between the posts is the accomplished junior Christy Morgan, who started 22 games for the Blue Devils last year. Protecting Morgan and the circle has been a point of emphasis, especially for the players not accustomed to Bozman’s defensive philosophy.

“One of our keys is everybody is a good defender,” Bozman said. “We spend a lot of time on defense. When freshmen come in, they don’t really understand defense, and our system of defense is very different than what they played in high school. They are going to spend a lot of time on that, because it ultimately helps them for our counter-attack.”

Duke will have to make sure things come together fast because of the overall strength of the ACC. When the polls come out, four of the top five teams will likely be from the ACC.

Junior Katie Grant is expecting the obvious—competition will be stiff in field hockey’s premier conference.

“Both UNC and Maryland can beat anybody,” Grant said. “They got good recruits. Wake lost a lot of players, but they will still be a threat to us.”

The Blue Devils open their season in East Lansing, Mich., this weekend against Louisville in the Champion’s Challenge, hosted by Michigan State. After the tournament, they will play eight of their next nine games at home.

The Duke field hockey team has as good a shot as any other Duke team to bring home a national title. And if seniors Johanna Bischof, Gracie Sorbello and Chrissie Murphy, have their say, they will go out with a bang.


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