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No. 1 Maryland spoils Duke field hockey's Senior Day

Duke's senior class was celebrated for its final home game, but the ending was bittersweet as the blue Devils lost 5-1 to Maryland.
Duke's senior class was celebrated for its final home game, but the ending was bittersweet as the blue Devils lost 5-1 to Maryland.

Lightning did not strike twice for the Blue Devils as they sought their second win of the season against a team ranked No. 1 in the nation.

No. 1 Maryland trounced No. 7 Duke 5-1 on Saturday afternoon at Jack Katz Stadium. The Blue Devils' six seniors and two graduate students were honored for the team's annual Senior Day recognition, but it was the Terrapins who gave the group a bitter ending to what could be their last home contest.

“They are a special group,” head coach Pam Bustin said. “They are a group that will be so important and so special to this program forever—for helping and committing to making the change to putting Duke back in the top 10 and back in to championship contention.”

The Blue Devils (13-5, 3-3 in the ACC) quickly fell behind in the first half 3-0, with Terrapin midfielder Anna Dessoye scoring two first half goals and assisting on another. Maryland (18-1, 6-0) converted three out of their seven penalty corner opportunities into goals, which gave them the early advantage.

Duke maintained a persistent attack throughout the game, but could not score against Terrapin goalkeeper Natalie Hunter, who came into the game having only given up nine goals all season.

“They were strong defensively and we had to work very hard for those shots and opportunities in the circle and they were good chances, some of them off corners,” senior forward Emmie Le Marchand said. “It is frustrating to be that close in for shots and to not execute.”

The Blue Devils were awarded eight penalty corners and attempted 17 shots, but Hunter and the Maryland defense stood strong and kept the ball out of the cage.

The Terrapin’s stout defense created momentum for the offense, which added two second half goals by forwards Alyssa Parker and Mieke Hayn. At one point Duke faced its largest deficit of the season, as Maryland built a 5-0 lead.

“[Maryland’s penalty corners] were executed really well,” Bustin said. “You have to give Maryland credit on the execution. They were sharp. They were deceptive.”

Le Marchand cut into the Terrapin lead in the 64th minute, when she scored her team-high 11th goal of the season off a penalty stroke against goalkeeper Brooke Cabrera, who had come in to relieve Hunter.

Cabrera denied the last ditch efforts to put the ball in the goal, tallying three saves in the final 6:39.

Duke’s loss to Maryland is their fifth to a ranked opponent this season and puts them at .500 in conference play going into this week’s ACC tournament in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

“We have beaten top teams. We are used to playing them,” said Le Marchand. “We just need to take advantage of the chances that we do get. At this level, the smallest difference gets the win. We are going to continue work on that in practice this week.”

But as the final seconds ticked off of the clock, the focus went from suffering a blowout loss to Maryland to honoring the program’s seniors.

Despite her family—which resides in England—not being able to make the game, Le Marchand was quick to note that she was surrounded by the members of her other family.

“It has been a pretty amazing thing to be a part of. I don’t think I could ask for a better group of people to do it with,” the two-time All-ACC selection said. “Four years on this team in this program has been amazing.”

Fellow senior and two-time All-American Paula Heimbach brushed off the loss to celebrate the team’s accomplishments over the last four years.

“It is really bittersweet. It has been a great four years,” said Heimbach. “I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else, and I am really proud to be Blue Devil.”

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