Blue Devils invade World Cup

With less than four minutes remaining in the second half, Cara-Lynn Lopresti squeaked a slow roller into the back of the net to knot the score at two.

But rather than wearing a Duke uniform, Lopresti was sporting red, white and blue as her goal helped Team USA tie No. 1 Netherlands at the Women's Junior Field Hockey World Cup in Santiago, Chile Sept. 15.

"I remember right after it and, until the end of the game, I had the best feeling inside of me," Lopresti wrote in an e-mail. The memory was just one of many that Lopresti has experienced since the World Cup began Sept. 14, and what made it even better was that two of her Duke teammates were there to celebrate with her.

Duke senior Katie Grant and juniors Lopresti and Amy Stopford are all members of the U-21 US National Team. Fellow Blue Devil junior Hilary Linton, a British Columbia native, is also In Chile, but is representing the U-21 Canadian National Team.

Undefeated through the first four games, Team USA (3-0-1) is hoping to improve on its previous best finish of 10th at the 1989 Junior World Cup. The U-21 US National Team finished in a tie for first with the Netherlands in its preliminary round pool and advanced to the next phase of the tournament, where the remaining 12 teams will vie for the World Cup Championship. Team USA opened play in the second phase with a 3-1 win against Chile Sept. 18.

 "This whole tournament is about put-ting US hockey back on the map, and finally proving that we can hang with any team in the world," Lopresti wrote. "If we keep playing as we are, there is no doubt in my mind that we have every right to bring home the gold medal."

 Although the team is comprised of elite college players from across the country, the trio of Blue Devils representing the US have found comfort playing together. "It gives you a little feeling of home," Lopresti wrote. "We all work well together and know each other's style of play. So, this helps give us an edge."

 Grant, Lopresti, and Stopford have all contributed to Team USA's success, having played in every game. In addition toscoring a goal against the Netherlands, Lopresti netted a goal in Team USA's win over Zimbabwe Sept. 17. Grant also put a shot past Zimbabwe's goalie in the 14-0 victory.

"It is so much fun playing with Katie and Cara-Lynn," Stopford wrote. "It is rare to have two players from your college team on the junior national team, so it is very special to be able to share this experience."

Although Team USA has found success so far, Linton and the Canadian team have struggled. The Canadians (1-3-0) finished last in their preliminary-round pool, and the best the team can hope for is 13th place. "Our kids are instrumental in the success of the US team," Duke head coach

Beth Bozman said. She added that Hilary Linton is a great player too, and wishes Team Canada was enjoying the same success as the US. After a rest day Sept. 19, Team USA faces Australia in a second phase matchup today. The World Cup will continue until the championship game Sept. 25.

Since the four players left for the tournament, the Blue Devils have had to play two top-ten opponents without them. Duke beat No. 10 Iowa Saturday but fell to ninth-ranked Old Dominion Sunday.

And, although the chance to play in the Junior World Cup was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, it was hard for the girls to leave their Blue Devil teammates back at home. "We feel torn between leaving our team at home and being here," Stopford wrote. "We wish we could be there, but we have a lot of confidence in our team without us."

Duke will be forced to play two more contests without the four starters, including Friday's matchup with third-ranked North Carolina. "We can't overlook the fact that we are missing them, " Bozman said. "But, the rest of the team has really stepped up."



Share and discuss “Blue Devils invade World Cup” on social media.