Upset loss puts damper on Duke's senior day

If everything went according to plan, Duke would have celebrated its senior day with a victory in its regular-season finale.

But Virginia had other plans.

The No. 13 Cavaliers upset the No. 4 Blue Devils 4-3 Saturday at Katz Stadium as Virginia snapped Duke's eight-game winning streak.

The Blue Devils quickly dug themselves a significant hole after the Cavaliers netted three goals in the match's first 15 minutes. After a timeout, the team began to stage a comeback led by-who else?-its seniors.

A backhanded goal in the 15th minute by senior Marian Dickinson off an assist from fellow senior Laura Suchoski cut the deficit to 3-1 by halftime.

In the second half, Suchoski launched a shot from the top of the circle into the bottom right corner of the cage, making the score 3-2 in the 41st minute. The Blue Devils (14-4, 2-3 in the ACC) managed to tie the game at three at the 51:26 mark after Suchoski assisted sophomore Susan Ferger's goal.

But the comeback attempt was thwarted five minutes later when Virginia scored the game-winning tally off a penalty corner.

Though the Blue Devils fell to the Cavaliers (12-7, 2-3), they said that one game does not take away from the tremendous contributions of Dickinson, Suchoski and Ashley Pultorak. The trio has helped create Duke's standard of excellence for the past four years.

"[The seniors] have helped keep us at that level," head coach Beth Bozman said. "They are all really special players."

Since their arrival to the program, the three seniors have achieved large successes, reaching two Final Fours and one national championship game. Through 83 career games, the seniors have collectively scored 84 goals and 64 assists, while leading the team to an impressive 59-24 record over that time.

What makes this senior class special is how each member differentiates from another, helping to create a nice balance between the trio.

"We are like the three stooges," Suchoski said. "Each of us add a different spark to the team."

Suchoski, a two time first-team All-American, leads vocally as a captain. Because her position lies in the heart of the field, it is fitting that she is considered the heart of the team.

"Laura has the most phenomenal skill of anyone on this team," Pultorak said. "She's got incredible finesse on the field, but she's also so willing to help everybody get better and elevate us to her level."

Pultorak has developed into a mentor for the underclassmen and provides advice for on- and off-the-field issues. Though she is a forward, her skill set extends beyond the necessities of her offensive position.

"Ashley is the all-around player that you want on your team," Suchoski said. "She goes out and can play any position, and is one of the few types of players that will never let you down."

The most prolific scorer of the three seniors is Dickinson, a former member of the Canadian National Team. With 55 goals in her career, Dickinson is only two tallies away from moving into fourth place on Duke's all-time scoring list. Also a captain, her mentality of leading by example has elevated the team's focus and intensity.

"Marian is serious and her nickname is the point collector," Pultorak said. "She gets down to business, is direct and comes to play."

Though the Cavaliers' Saturday upset will hurt Duke's ranking, the seniors know they have a chance to avenge the loss-and soon. The two teams square off in the first round of the ACC Tournament at Katz Stadium Thursday, offering the seniors a second chance for their senior day celebration.


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