Sports

Despite Merton’s first goal, Owls lose their third game to nationally ranked team

The Owls are shutout in the second half in Friday’s 5-2 loss to No. 10 University of Delaware at Howarth Field.

The Owls have struggled against nationally ranked programs to this point in the season, and that trend continued on Friday in a 5-2 loss at Howarth Field to No. 10 University of Delaware.

It was the team’s third loss of the season to a team ranked in the National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll, after losses in previous games to No. 2 Syracuse University and No. 18 Penn State. Three of the team’s four losses are against ranked teams. The loss comes after the team had broken a three-game losing streak to start the season with a win against La Salle.

The Owls fell into an early hole when Delaware redshirt-junior midfielder Kayla Devlin scored the first goal of the game just one minute, 28 seconds into the first half.

Ten minutes later, freshman midfielder Maddie Merton netted her first career collegiate goal, tying the game at one at the 11:52 mark of the first half.

“I was just fortunate enough to the be on the post where [the ball] came to,” Merton said. “It felt really really good.”

The goal “gave [the team] the energy that [it] needed,” junior foward Hattie Kuhns said.

However, the jubilation on the Owls’ sideline quickly vanished as Blue Hens freshman midfielder Kaitlin Zook and sophomore midfielder Sabrina Rhodes scored two goals in a span of 7:24 to give their team a lead that it would not relinquish.

The Owls cut their deficit in half four minutes later on a goal by sophomore midfielder Jessika Daniels, but Delaware sophomore midfielder Greta Nauck scored two goals in the second half to put the game away.

The Blue Hens’ stifling defense was the story of the second half, as they yielded four shots on goal and shutout the Owls in the period. Delaware outshot Temple 21 to nine in the game.

Despite allowing five goals in the game, freshman goalkeeper Maddie Lilliock (1-4) received praise from head coach Marybeth Freeman. The freshman goalkeeper made 11 saves in the game.

“[Lilliock] is one of the most agile goalkeepers I’ve seen in a long time,” Freeman said. “She’s done a great job of putting her best foot forward and covering the goal posts.”

Now 1-4, the Owls must rebound quickly, as they will take on the Drexel Dragons on Sunday at Howarth Field. This will be the fourth game of a six game home stand for the team.

Temple has won one out of the three contests thus far.

“We’re going to go with this tomorrow at practice,” Kuhns said. “We learn a great amount of things and we’re just going to come out against Drexel with the things we learned today and transition it into hopefully beating the Dragons on Sunday.”

Varun Sivakumar can be reached at varun.sivakumar@temple.edu or on Twitter @varunsivakumar.

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