Q&A: Head coach Jen Beck discusses Oregon’s hot start to the season
Last season, Oregon finished 10-8. The team returns 21 players, including Carly O’Connell, Cambi Cukar, Ali Scharkey and Jenna Morris.
O’Connell finished her junior campaign with a team-high 48 points (33 goals, 15 assists) and will look to build on that success in her final year.
Oregon head coach Jen Beck, entering her 12th year at the helm, took the time to talk about the team’s start, the players who have stood out and what the goal is for the season.
It was a good start. What happened in those two games?
I’d say a lot of resilience and confidence against Michigan. They played as a team, which I thought was an absolute strength of ours in the course of the 60 minutes … being able to make adjustments, communicating through timeouts and halftime, I was really impressed in those scenarios with this team.
Does being able to play as a team have to do with so many returnees?
I think it has a lot to do with the senior leadership. They’re determined — taking responsibility and holding themselves accountable.
One of those leaders is Carly O’Connell. What has she been able to do so far, and what do you expect?
She is just a baller. She wants to play lacrosse all the time; she wants everyone to play lacrosse all the time. She is excited to play other people and wants the team to play a really high, excellent pace. She is one of those leaders people are behind, and I am just trying to guide and direct us towards playing in May.
How have the new freshman been able to fit in?
Well, Shannon Williams is starting and she has done a tremendous job. You just can’t tell she is a freshman on the field with her confidence. I’ve been impressed by what she is bringing. We are getting more time from other freshman as well. I’ve been impressed by that class as a whole.
Can Williams step up and be a player like O’Connell has for this program?
Carly has recognized that she can mold someone and really connect well with her. I think Shannon will blaze her own path, two totally different types of players, but working really well together.
How has the defense looked?
We have a couple of strategic defenses that we are playing, just trying to get confident. We have a very veteran defense with Allison Scharkey, Jackie Moccia, Jenna Morris and Katie Marlatt. Having that leadership and accountability, when they make errors they really want to fix them and get better.
What are the goals for this team?
Playing in May. We are scheduled through April, but our conference tournament then takes us into May, so the goal is always to win the MPSF Championship — to go on and use our automatic bid or qualify for NCAAs on our own.
It would be special for these seniors to be able to do that in their final year.
Yeah, they are really driven to do that. They have gotten tastes, but never able to fully grasp it. Our conference is phenomenal and competitive, so we just have to stay on task.
Follow Christopher Keizur on Twitter @chriskeizur
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