The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday October 5th

Field Hockey Adds Firepower

DURHAM -- The North Carolina field hockey team is scoring more goals this season.

A lot more.

Notoriously a defensive-minded team, it has a new-found explosiveness on the other side of the ball.

The Tar Heels have already scored 36 goals in 11 games (3.27 goals per game) this season, while they could manage only 57 in 22 games (2.59 goals per game) all of last season. UNC has already exceeded three goals on five occasions this season.

The team was able to score three goals Saturday against a Wake Forest defense that had allowed only six in its previous nine games.

"I think we are more offensive oriented," junior midfielder Abby Martin said. "We've always had a tradition of strong defense. I think now with the system that we have, all kinds of cuts the forwards are doing, I think it is overall more scoring."

While the team is more focused on offense, added experience on the forward line and in the midfield seems to be a main reason for the increased output this season.

All three of the leading scorers for UNC -- Kristen McCann, Jana Toepel, and Abbey Woolley -- gained valuable international experience during the off-season playing for the U.S. National Team.

Coach Karen Shelton has attributed much of the extra offensive production to this added experience.

"I think it is simply the maturity of the team," Shelton said. "We have basically our entire offensive team back, so they have all gotten better. Abbey Woolley is back in the lineup. Holly Huff has done a nice job. Kristen McCann is becoming a big-time scorer."

McCann, who scored 14 goals last year, already has 13 so far this year, including two Saturday in the 3-2 victory against the Demon Deacons.

Her opportunity to play in international competition, as well as the added experience of the players around her, has had much to do with her increased success this season.

"I have a lot more support on the forward line," McCann said. "Having three really good other forwards helps a lot."

While McCann has scored 13 times, Woolley has five goals. Martin, Toepel and Huff each have added four on the season. Also, back Erin Cox has contributed two goals to go along with her six assists.

The Tar Heels feel that their unselfishness and experience playing together has been a key for more goals.

"We looked to work with each other, we looked to pass with each other," Martin said. "We make it a point to look at each other and use each other."

Despite the additional scoring, Shelton does not believe the team has played up to its full potential.

"Against Duke, we wanted to get more shots; we didn't have many opportunities," Shelton said. "I think we tend to play to the level of our competition. Our goal is to play the same way no matter who we play, and we are not there yet."

The Sports Editor can be reached sports@unc.edu.



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