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Duke field hockey notches 2 victories thanks to seniors and freshmen

Duke opened its season with two consecutive victories for just the second time since 2008.
Duke opened its season with two consecutive victories for just the second time since 2008.

With eight seniors on the team, Duke field hockey is loaded with leadership.

A duo of veterans pushed the Blue Devils past Indiana 4-0 in their season-opener, but it was freshman Heather Morris who led Duke past Drexel Sunday at Jack Katz Stadium, notching a hat trick in her second-career collegiate contest.

“The leadership on this team is phenomenal,” Duke head coach Pam Bustin said. “There are not one or two kids, it’s mostly the entire team making the decision to lead at different times of the day. They have it in them, it’s just a matter of helping them discover it and having the confidence to use it.”

Senior forward Emmie Le Marchand triggered the Blue Devils’ offensive onslaught with a goal in the first minute of the game, beating Indiana goalkeeper Maggie Olson. Le Marchand added another tally in the 41st minute, after forward Cherry Seaborn notched her first goal as a Blue Devil in the 30th. Seaborn, a graduate student, attended the University of Durham in the United Kingdom and is currently studying at the Fuqua School of Business.

“You want your forwards to want to score,” Bustin said. “It’s good to get people on the ball and keep the pace high. We’ve matched our speed with a composure so we can actually finish our plays.”

Junior Jessica Buttinger scored with 30 seconds remaining in the contest. The forward, who spent her summer playing on the U-21 Canadian National Team, is posed to be one of Duke’s top offensive weapons this season. Her weekend, however, was cut short after a high stick hit her in the face in the fifth minute of the Blue Devils' second game.

But her absence didn’t hinder the Blue Devils’ production, with the team consistently penetrating Drexel’s (1-1) half of the field on their way to three first half goals. Morris opened the scoring in the 15th minute off a pass from junior midfielder Abby Beltran, marking Beltrani's third assist of the weekend. Morris and Seaborn then scored 40 seconds apart in the 25th minute, giving the Blue Devils (2-0) a commanding 3-0 lead going into the locker rooms. Morris secured her hat trick in the 65th minute.

“Heather chose Duke because she knew she could have an immediate impact on the program,” Bustin said. “She’s a natural scorer and she finds the goal. She’s finding her vision now and its very comfortable in our attacking offense.”

But a looping top-shelf goal from Dragon forward Idrienne Walker in the 56th minute shifted the momentum towards Drexel. Redshirt sophomore goaltender Lauren Blazing, who shut out the Hoosiers (0-2) Friday, kept the ball in Duke’s zone and Drexel scoreless for the rest of the game.

“It’s just a lot of communication,” senior defender Paula Heimbach said. “You need to talk to players and communicate, and I think we did well with that today. Plus Blazing did really well in both games.”

For only the second time since 2008, Duke is undefeated after its first weekend of play.

“We’re really excited to put the ball in the net,” she said. “I think last year that was a struggle for us consistently, so it was our goal all spring to work on our attack. Not just one or two attacking options, though, it’s really good to get the team involved.”


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