Crystal Poland of the No. 8 North­eastern Uni­ver­sity field hockey team scores goals at a clip that would make National Hockey League all-​​time leading scorer Wayne Gretzky tap his stick on the ice in adulation.

The sharp­shooting senior for­ward has scored 13 of the team’s 21 goals through the first seven games of the season, six of which were wins. Through Thursday, Poland was second in the nation in goals scored and goals per game (1.23).

Poland will shoot for her 14th on Friday night at Jordan Field in Cam­bridge, Mass., against No. 20 William & Mary. The game marks the opening of the team’s Colo­nial Ath­letic Asso­ci­a­tion con­fer­ence schedule, which will fea­ture games against Hof­stra in Durham, N.H., and James Madison in Har­ris­burg, Va.

Head coach Cheryl Murtagh piled high praise upon Poland, who appears poised to shatter last season’s career-​​best 27 goals in just a frac­tion of the games.

Crystal’s a great shooter and a great scorer and that’s not some­thing you can teach,” Murtagh explained. “She has a decep­tive shot, which makes it hard for goal­tenders to read.”

Allison Conti, a senior mid­fielder and co-​​captain of the club, agreed with Murtagh’s assess­ment of the offen­sive star, whom she referred to as a “very gifted player.”

The Huskies have already dis­patched four ranked oppo­nents, including three vic­to­ries in one-​​goal barn­burners. Coaches and players noted that big wins in close games have boosted their con­fi­dence in making a run through the NCAA tour­na­ment in November.

Conti’s not afraid to dream big. “I def­i­nitely think we can get to the NCAA Final Four,” she said. “There’s not a doubt in my mind.”

Murtagh referred to last season’s second-​​place finish in the CAA and a well-​​deserved NCAA tour­na­ment berth as turning points for the pro­gram. “It’s always nice to come into a season after the team has had some suc­cess,” she said. “For the first time in a long time, we have shown that we can win the big games.”

While Poland’s offen­sive output has car­ried North­eastern thus far this season, Conti noted that crafty oppo­nents could start shifting their defen­sive focus toward her, requiring other Huskies to step up and score big goals.

One of those players is Deirdre Duke, a freshman for­ward who has scored five goals in her first seven col­le­giate games.

I knew she was a very tal­ented player and I wouldn’t be sur­prised if she has a lot of assists as well,” Conti said.

Added Murtagh: “You never know how freshman will impact a team, but she is cer­tainly fit­ting in nicely.”