It was all too familiar.
When the final whistle blew, the Owls ran off the field and gathered near their bench, embracing each other for the last time this season. The team’s 21 players then ran across the field to salute the fans who cheered them on throughout their inaugural season at Howarth Field.
For the fourth straight season, Temple (7-12, 3-4 Big East) lost to Connecticut in the Big East tournament.
The Huskies beat the Owls 8-1 at Howarth Field on Friday afternoon to advance to Sunday’s final in their quest to win a fifth-straight conference title and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Connecticut freshman forward Svea Boker recorded a hat trick, while sophomore forwards Amanda Collins and Amelia Iacobucci eached scored two goals to power the Huskies’ attack.
The Owls were the visiting team at their home field because the Huskies earned the No.1 seed in the tournament. Temple struggled to maintain possession of the ball and establish any form of momentum. The Huskies outshot Temple 21-8 and led 9-3 in penalty corners.
Connecticut immediately showed flashes of its dominance, scoring two goals within the first five minutes of the game. These setbacks for the Owls came after an early scoring chance by junior midfielder and forward Maiyah Brown that missed the goal.
Coach Marybeth Freeman said she liked Brown’s week of practice and decided to add her to the starting lineup against the Huskies. Brown only started in three of the team’s seven games in October.
After a third UConn goal in the 12th minute, senior midfielder Paige Gross scored the Owls’ lone goal of the game to break the run. Gross’ second goal in as many games was assisted by senior forward Katie Foran. All four of the Owls’ seniors started in their last games for the Cherry and White.
Temple held the Huskies scoreless for more than 15 minutes after Gross’ goal before Connecticut closed the game on a 5-0 run. Collins scored in the 33rd and 37th minutes and Boker scored two goals in the second half to seal her hat trick.
After UConn notched its seventh goal, Freeman pulled freshman goalkeeper Maddie Lilliock, and replaced her with sophomore Chloe Johnson.
“It’s hard on a psyche when you get seven goals scored against you and your job is to keep the ball out of the goal,” Freeman said. “Chloe had a good week in practice, and unfortunately, seven goals [given up by Lilliock] is tough to bounce back from, so that’s why we put Chloe in.”
The Huskies will play Liberty University, which earned a 1-0 victory against Providence College in the other semifinal match, in the finals Sunday at Howarth Field at 1 p.m.
Varun Sivakumar can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @VarunSivakumar.