Sports

Defensive home field advantage helps extend shutout streak

The Owls’ stellar defense allowed the team to extend its home shutout streak to five games.

In the early goings of the 2012 season, the women’s soccer team has seen its share of goals allowed, with multiple goals given up in three of its six games. But, against Iona, an increased focus on defense was the key the Owls’ 1-0 shutout win.

“It’s definitely an improvement,” redshirt-junior forward Jackie Krostek said. “All around. It comes from the midfield and even the forwards. We worked a lot in practice, playing defense and obviously today it showed”

With true freshman Shauni Kerkhoff in goal, defense would be emphasized even further with the admittedly “super nervous” young goal keeper, coach Matt Gwilliam said.

“[Kerkhoff] did well. There was a bit of nerves,” Gwilliam said.

Although redshirt senior Tara Murphy has started the last 16 games for the Owls at goalkeeper, she was replaced by Kerkhoff for Friday afternoons’ match. The result was Temple’s fifth straight shutout at home.

“At training, we looked at our movement.” Gwilliam said.

“We have a great back four. They are the hardest working four players I’ve ever seen.” Kerkhoff said when asked about her team’s defensive performance. “They’re fantastic and I feel so safe with them in front of me. They did a fantastic job.”

They are a unit that has allowed nearly 20 shots per game this season, but against Iona, the Owls held their opponent to nine attempts and zero goals, preserving the shut out.

Part of that back four is Krostek, who tore her ACL at the start of the 2011 season against these same Iona Gaels. As a result, she was forced to miss nearly her entire sophomore season.

“It was the first thing I thought about today, playing Iona, again,” Krostek said.

Krostek, being one of the few veteran players on this young Owls team, has also been part of the support for the new starter at goalkeeper.

“All the upperclassmen have been welcoming,” Kerkhoff said. “They’re so supportive.”

Although they have had their struggles on the road, this most recent shutout signifies the second straight home win for the Owls. They have only allowed an average of 6.5 opponent shot attempts when playing at Ambler this season, and zero goals scored.

At home, the Owls have found the formula for success, which is a swarming defensive effort that never allows their opponents a chance to try taking a lead.

“No matter what goalie is back there, I feel confident.” Krostek said.

Brien E. Edwards can be reached at brien.edwards@temple.edu.

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