Current Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2013 03:33:19 -0400
Last weekend, the North Carolina field hockey team allowed three goals in two games — all on penalty corners. Though the Tar Heels prevailed in both contests, they knew that if they could improve on anything, it was defending set plays.
UNC proved this weekend in Boston that it had taken that challenge seriously. For the second time this season, the Tar Heels (14-1, 3-0 ACC) posted back-to-back shutouts in weekend games, defeating Boston College 4-0 on Saturday and Dartmouth 6-0 on Sunday.
“On corner defense, we were a little shaky last weekend,” sophomore back Samantha Travers said. “So we really worked on boxing out — getting a body on a girl and not letting the girl get to a rebound. Even if you can’t get to the rebound, as long as the other girl can’t, you’re doing your job.”
In field hockey, penalty corners are awarded for infractions committed by the defense inside the circle — an arc with a radius extending 16 yards from the goal.
An attacking player receives the ball on the endline and passes it to her teammates positioned around the arc. Until the ball is hit, five of the defending team’s players must remain behind the endline while the other six must begin beyond midfield.
Last weekend, Wake Forest and Virginia Commonwealth scored three goals against UNC on a total of seven corners.
BC and Dartmouth combined for 13, but were denied every time.
But on Saturday, the Tar Heels weren’t immediately successful on offense. The Tar Heels bombarded the Eagles with 12 first-half shots, but were unable to score.
“Early in the game, we created the chances,” coach Karen Shelton said. “But four out of the five shots we hit were wide, or over the top of the goal. So we didn’t make the goalkeeper save, even though we were making these great chances.”
But with 17 minutes remaining in the game, Charlotte Craddock took over. The sophomore forward took advantage of three penalty corners to earn a hat trick and break open the game. In just nine games, Craddock has 14 goals and is UNC’s leading goal-scorer.
Against Dartmouth on Sunday, Craddock again opened the scoring, this time in the 13th minute. But the final five goals were dispersed among five of her teammates.
“Any way we can score is great,” said sophomore forward Loren Shealy, who also scored a goal in both games this weekend. “If we have one person scoring three goals, that’s great. But if we have six different players scoring, that’s great as well. It just shows the depth of our bench.”
UNC denied six Dartmouth penalty corners in the final 15 minutes of the game.
Travers credited the team’s depth for its ability to maintain dominance on both ends of the field and close out both weekend games.
“There was a point when not a single starter was on the field, and we were still dominating completely,” Travers said. “We have such variety — no matter who we’re playing, we know that we can get stuff done. Every day in practice, our competition is better than any team we’re going to play. That helps us so much.”
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