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The Daily Tar Heel

New Offense Troubles Tar Heels

By Lauren Ritter

Staff Writer

A change in the North Carolina field hockey team's offensive scheme has affected the Tar Heels, just not in the way they had planned.

UNC is ranked 10th in the nation, its lowest ranking since the '80s, and faces a tough challenge Saturday against No. 2 Old Dominion.

The Tar Heels hope that finding their groove in the new system of two forwards and four midfielders will help them bounce back from the worst record they have had this far into a season since 1980.

"Obviously we don't feel good about the 3-3 record, but we're also realistic to know that we've played the toughest schedule in the country and we've played on the road," UNC coach Karen Shelton said. "I think they know that potentially they can beat any team in the country. I think they have that kind of confidence and now it's a matter of doing it, and I think Saturday will be a perfect time."

If UNC hopes to win Saturday against the Monarchs, they will have to find rhythm in their new offensive setup for the entire game -- something they have yet to do this season.

"What it's going to take to beat Old Dominion is team discipline for 70 minutes," Shelton said. "We need to execute our individual roles collectively for 70 minutes."

On Sunday, the Tar Heels take on Virginia in their first ACC matchup, but the focus of the team is their own play, not that of their opponent.

"I try not to worry so much about the other team," Shelton said. "I want to worry about our team and what we do. I think that we can impose our system on them."

But so far their new system has not been successful. When Shelton implemented it, she said she wanted to create a more productive offense. But last year, UNC scored 30 goals in its first six matches. This year, they've only notched 14.

"What (the new formation) was designed to do is have a really effective offense," senior co-captain Meredith Keller said. "It seems defensive, but giving you so much strength in the midfield is going to balance out the offense and defense.

"But obviously we're not using it to our full advantage right now because we've lost three games," she said. "I don't want to say I don't think it works, I think it will work, I think it can work. I think everyone is starting to understand it a little better, so we're just kind of starting to settle into it, but I don't think we're comfortable with it yet."

Shelton said they are sticking with it this year because it plays to strengths of the team.

"I like the system," Shelton said. "We switched to what we felt was our strength and our personality. I think it is working well even though we have a couple of losses. We're still growing into it."

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