Northern senior forward Marci Erdman knows that her team's offensive output early in the season isn't going to scare anyone.
The Patriots have scored only five goals in five games. But the team scored in each game. And the other Southern Maryland Athletic Conference field hockey teams might be worried because Northern won its first four games by a score of 1-0.
"I feel fortunate," said Erdman, who has two game-winning goals this season. "It's kind of strange that we can only get one goal a game, but it's also good because it shows we can hold off other teams from scoring. If one goal is what it takes to win, then I'll take it."
Erdman and the Patriots haven't had much of a choice. They started the season with a win over Westlake, won a tournament at Howard High School and followed that with a win over Leonardtown.
Northern's only defeat was to Patuxent, 2-1, on Monday.
Last season, offense wasn't as much of a concern because the Patriots could rely on double-digit goal scorer Sherri Keithley. Now Erdman, coming off an eight-goal season, is the focus of the attack and the center of expectations for Coach Dawn Moore.
"We talked about it at the beginning of the season that I was going to put a lot on her to do the scoring. She was really the only forward I had coming back that had any varsity experience," Moore said.
"I knew our number one weakness was not going to be whether we could control the ball or control the game, but could we actually get the ball into the goal."
The pressure for Erdman and the rest of the offense to score isn't coming just from the sidelines. It also comes from a defensive unit that is being asked to turn away opposing counterattacks while the Northern offense tries to take the lead.
"Every time the ball crosses [midfield], I cringe," Moore said. "That's one of those things where you hope the defense is there and everyone transitions back."
Erdman said she has seen a few "Would you score please" glances from the players on the back line.
"I don't think they like it at all. We always get the looks," Erdman said. "We count on the defense to hold them off for us; they count on us to get the goals."
Until the offense gets its act together, the Patriots are expected to play more close games during a four-game stretch that includes contests against defending league champion Great Mills and a rematch with Patuxent. In those games, it would suit Northern's defense just fine if Erdman and the offense kept the ball around the other team's goal.
"I would rather it stay on the offensive side," senior defender Nicole Kerfoot said. "Sometimes it gets boring when you're on defense and the ball's all the way up there, but I'd much rather it be on the offensive side."
Moore, too, would like to see her offense take control, but she believes that the early stretch of close games has given her team confidence, especially for the offense.
"I think now there's definitely some confidence that we can get one in. We'd like to get two or three, but we know that there is that ability to score," Moore said. "You only need one to win, or one more than the other team has."