Cal field hockey’s faltering offense hopes that two extra hours of practice will be enough to overcome two strong opponents this weekend.
Cal will fly to North Carolina to face No. 24 Duke on Friday and No. 22 Wake Forest on Sunday.
“I’ve been excited about this weekend ever since I scheduled it a year ago,” Cal coach Shellie Onstead said. “I just think it comes at a good time.”
The Bears (5-8, 1-3 in NorPac) have had a problem all season with their inconsistent offense. In last Sunday’s loss to Pacific, Cal had 21 shots to the Tigers’ 16. The Bears, however, were only able to convert those shots into one goal.
This loss came after a 5-0 blowout win against Pacific only two days earlier.
Last weekend’s games have been part of a gradual improvement for Cal’s offense. The 1-2 loss to Stanford on Sept. 28 had only five shots from the Bears, and the 1-3 loss to Davis two days later showcased only four shots.
A lack of goals and shots forced Onstead to hold an extra hour of practice twice this week for her forwards.
“We have not been scoring enough,” Onstead said. “I think it will get them more efficient and effective in scoring.”
The opportunity for the offense to have a focused practice gives it time to focus on basic shooting drills.
“It’s a lot of repetition and when you break it down to just a scoring practice it’s hundreds and hundreds of repetitions,” Onstead said. “Which is what I think they need to get their confidence up.”
The offense is led by NorPac leading scorer Lara Kruggel, who was named NorPac West Offensive Player of the Week for her 15 goals.
The Blue Devils have also had trouble getting their offense going in a season long slump. Duke (6-9, 0-4 ACC) has dropped from its No. 5 ranking from the beginning of this season to its current No. 24 ranking.
This drop was due to a series of big losses at the beginning of the season to various ranked teams, including a close 2-3 loss to No. 13 Wake Forest and a 2-4 fall to No. 11 Northwestern.
Duke will be coming off of a close 2-3 loss to No. 8 Old Dominion. In the contest, the Blue Devils kept the game close but were unable to catch up at the end.
The Blue Devils’ offense too has problems with producing enough shots with only nine against the Monarchs this past weekend. Duke’s offense is led by Emmie Le Marchand, who has ten goals and five assists.
As the Bears wrap up the regular season on Oct. 26, they are looking to use this weekend’s break from conference play to reach a peak in performance before the conference tournament.
With the offense’s extra practices, the Bears will need to produce goals like they did in last Friday’s 5-0 win.
“We’ve been breaking down the components, and now it’s time to put it all together; the defense and the midfield,” Onstead said. “Now it’s really been about the attack, so the goal is to put it all together.”
Jessica Lim covers field hockey. Contact her at j[email protected]