Field hockey opens with pair of road victories
In its first game of the season Friday, the North Carolina field hockey team was in an unfamiliar situation, down 1-0 to Lock Haven midway through the first half.
But when a stray ball broke sophomore Emma Bozek’s nose in the middle of the first half, UNC found new motivation and broke through the Lady Eagles’ stout defense to tie the game off a penalty corner with no time remaining in the half.
The Tar Heels (2-0) went on to win the game 2-1 and then defeat Villanova 10-0 Sunday.
Coach Karen Shelton said she was pleased with the team’s performance in the preseason, and graduate student Janne Grove said the team’s mentality Friday was to play like they had been practicing.
“We wanted to go into our first game with pressure and just show what we’ve worked in preseason with and show that on the field,” Grove said.
But the Tar Heels met a defense that seemed to have worked specifically to silence the UNC offense.
“That game was not how we wanted the first game to be,” Grove said.
Lock Haven set up in a half-court defense, crowding the circle and focusing on not giving UNC’s offense any chances.
“It cut down on scoring space,” Shelton said. “The circle of the scoring area was very congested and clogged.
“The longer the game went on, the more frustrated we became.”
Still, the Tar Heels put 15 shots on goal in the game.
Sophomore Casey Di Nardo said Lock Haven had prepared well for the Tar Heels’ offense, but after Bozek’s injury, UNC found more energy.
“We were kind of fired up and wanted to rally the team up and get settled and win the game,” Di Nardo said.
Though her team was challenged offensively on Friday, Shelton had hoped the Tar Heels’ defense would face stiffer competition.
“On the weekend, defensively, we were solid,” Shelton said. “But we weren’t tested nearly as much as we’re going to be tested next weekend.
“(Lock Haven) got two shots out and they scored. That wasn’t very pleasing as a coach.”
But Shelton said that the game against Villanova two days later gave her plenty to be happy about.
UNC had 33 shots total Sunday — 22 of which were on goal— while holding Villanova to a mere one shot.
Di Nardo attributes the alteration to a change in playing style against the Wildcats.
“(Sunday) we really focused on two and three touch passing and trying to work it around,” she said.
And after a close season-opener, UNC also worked around a hint of adversity. Though the weekend didn’t provide as much as Shelton had hoped for, she still came away content with her team’s performance.
“Well actually it was a tremendous weekend,” Shelton said. “I think it took us a game to start gelling a little bit.”