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University of Delaware field hockey player Julie Duffhuis (No. 12) helps teammate and goalie Lizzie Gaebel (No. 28) thwart a James Madison scoring attempt during the Blue Hens’ 3-1 victory over James Madison in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament championship game on Sunday, Nov. 7. Duffhuis, a sophomore environmental science major, was named the tournament’s outstanding player and the Blue Hens advanced to the NCAA tournament.

Field hockey team advances to NCAA tournament

Photo by Mark Campbell

Victory over James Madison gives Blue Hens third consecutive Colonial Athletic Association tournament title

The No. 22-ranked University of Delaware field hockey team earned its third straight Colonial Athletic Association tournament title and eighth in nine seasons by defeating No. 24 James Madison, 3-1, on Sunday, Nov. 7. With the win, the Blue Hens earned an automatic bid to the 2021 NCAA Division I field hockey tournament.

The Blue Hens will host Fairfield at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 10, in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. The NCAA championship field will consist of 18 teams with the tournament running from Nov. 10 through Nov. 21. The semifinals and finals will be held in Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

UD is 12-8 overall and finished the CAA part of its schedule with a 5-1 mark. James Madison’s record is 12-7 and 6-0 in the conference.

"What a beautiful performance and focused Delaware field hockey today," UD head coach Rolf van de Kerkhof said after victory over JMU. "I think from start to finish we were in control. We needed to find the groove a little bit which makes sense in the championship game. Kudos to our players group for staying the course. We played our best hockey of the season so far, maybe all of 2021 today. We have gotten stronger and gained more confidence, but we are also more relaxed. We've come a long way and I think now we are a hard team to beat."   

On a crisp fall afternoon with more than 500 fans roaring in Fred P. Rullo Stadium, the game started off with high energy, both teams going head-to-head. The first period ended scoreless with Delaware taking seven shots to James Madison's one. The Blue Hens had a 5-1 advantage in penalty corners.

Just under two minutes in the second period, Kiki Oudshoorn received a long pass up the middle, sprinting into the circle. She took the Dukes' goalkeeper, Florien Marcussen, one-on-one smacking the ball into the back of the net for the Blue Hen's first goal.

Delaware closed out the first half on a goal by Morgan Rigual, after tipping in a pass from Oudshoorn. This marked Rigual's third goal of the tournament, after scoring two against William & Mary in the semifinal game Friday.

In the ninth minute of the third period, Ashlyn Carr turned around in the circle, drilling a shot from the left side into the back of the net, giving the Blue Hens a 3-0 lead. 

James Madison's Eveline Zwager put James Madison on the board at the end of the third quarter, driving a shot in on a tough angle making the game, 3-1. 

Goalkeeper Lizzie Gaebel made six saves in the fourth quarter, preventing the Dukes from scoring again, to secure the win for the Blue Hens. Gaebel tied her season-high eight saves in the win. 

Oudshoorn, Carr and Gaebel earned CAA All-Tournament recognition, while Defensive Player of the Year Julia Duffhuis earned the tournaments' Most Outstanding Player award.

2021 CAA Field Hockey All-Tournament Team

Julia Duffhuis, Delaware (Most Outstanding Player)

Ashlyn Carr, Delaware

Lizzie Gaebel, Delaware

Kiki Oudshoorn, Delaware

Florien Marcussen, James Madison

Diede Remijnse, James Madison

Eveline Zwager, James Madison

Cailin Hart, Northeastern

Erin Savage, Northeastern

Maddie George, William & Mary

Cara Menges, William & Mary

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