In a freshman class described as one of the most talented ever to join the program by head coach Beth Bozman, two players, Emmie Le Marchand and Caashia Karringten, bring a bit of international flair to the team.
The two players followed diverging paths to Duke Field Hockey, with Le Marchand blazing a new trail from across the pond in England, and Karringten following in the footsteps of many other Canadian Blue Devils.
“We have a long line of Canadians in the program,” Bozman said. “We have a long history with them, especially with the Vancouver kids.”
Karringten had been to campus a few times, attending various camps, and she eventually caught the eye of Duke’s coaching staff.
Le Marchand, however, describes her path to Duke as a “long story” which all began when the Blue Devils recruited a player at the Junior World Cup, held in Boston last year. This player was not Le Marchand.
“We actually recruited a teammate of hers from her club team,” Bozman said. “We brought this girl in and she decided that the academic priority at Duke might not suit her, and she went back and told Emmie what a great place this was.”
Fortunately for the Blue Devils, Le Marchand was keen to sign on to what Duke has to offer, and she now is the team’s leading goal-scorer. The first English player to compete under Bozman, Le Marchand has set a precedent for others to follow, with another player from England in next year’s freshman class.
Like all freshmen, both Karringten and Le Marchand have had to adapt considerably to college life at Duke, a challenge made greater by being foreigners. However, for Karringten, the transition may not have been as extreme as it was for Le Marchand.
“Well I don’t think it’s such a change for Caashia,” Bozman said. “We just think Canadians are Americans, just a bit further north.… But it was certainly an adjustment for Emmie because she was coming from England. The weather alone was different, especially the hottest fall we’ve ever had [since I’ve been here].”
Both players have also had to adjust to the different style of hockey played in the ACC.
“I think the style of hockey is different,” Karringten said. “It’s really attacking, whereas I think Canada is more composed and they like to go back a lot.”
This sentiment was echoed by Le Marchand, showing the clear difference in hockey around the world.
“I think it’s more direct here,” Le Marchand said. “Whereas a lot of the work I had done in England was in midfield… posting up and being able to turn with my back behind the ball… here it’s being able to get my feet round and going towards the goal, so it’s certainly more aggressive.”
For Le Marchand another challenge has been a change in position, from midfield, which she played in England, to the forward line.
“I’ve really enjoyed playing a different position and having a bit more license to go to goal and shoot,” Le Marchand said. “I’ve scored some goals so I feel like I’ve been reasonably successful so far. I just hope I can keep that up for this season and future seasons.”
Karringten, who started playing hockey at the age of seven to follow her two sisters, has trained with the Canadian women’s senior national team, and says that the experience has given her a smoother adjustment.
Interestingly, she claims the level of play in the ACC is not much different than that of the national team.
“It definitely got me prepared,” Karringten said. “It’s not that much of a change. I think the girls down here make it intense and competitive.”
Both players can be happy with the performance they have put in so far this season, becoming integral parts of the team as the season draws to a close and the Blue Devils seek a tournament berth.
“I’m really excited,” Le Marchand said. “Two games left… two big games.”
The first of those two games starts this weekend at No.11 Penn State Saturday. No.17 Duke will look to keep up its successful run from last weekend, when it beat William & Mary and then-No.19 Old Dominion.
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