DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke field hockey program hits the turf for the first time Wednesday to begin preseason training ahead of the 2019 campaign.
Head coach Pam Bustin, who enters her ninth season at the helm of the Blue Devil program, returns 13 letter winners and five starters from a season ago. The group of returners includes 2018 All-ACC first team selection Margaux Paolino in the midfield and second team honorees Sammi Steele in goal and Jillian Wolgemuth in the backfield. Under the direction of Bustin and her staff, Duke compiled a 16-6 ledger last fall and rounded out the season ranked third in the final Penn Monto/NFHCA Division I Coaches Poll.
Senior Haley Schleicher and junior Lexi Davidson round out the group of returning starters. Also back for the Blue Devils are senior Kirby Comizio, juniors Lily Posternak and Libby Thompson and sophomores Leah Crouse, Caroline Hanan, Grace Kim, Olivia Sahaydak and Noor van de Laar.
“Graduating the core of our goal scorers is never an easy void to fill; however, the 2019 returning group has worked throughout the spring to increase our goal productivity,” Bustin said. “We also look forward to welcoming an extremely talented freshman class who will undoubtedly respond positively to the high level of competition and contribute to our game day play immediately.”
Following a season that saw the Duke program make its 17th NCAA Tournament appearance, the 2019 squad will take on a schedule that includes eight contests against opponents who were selected to the 2018 NCAA Championship field. Half of Duke’s 2019 opposition finished last season with 10 or more wins.
The Blue Devils will face ACC opponent North Carolina in an exhibition contest Saturday, Aug. 24 at 11 a.m., in Durham before lifting the lid on the 2019 campaign by hosting Penn State at Williams Field at Jack Katz Stadium Friday, Aug. 30.