During the 7th minute of the second overtime period against Liberty University, senior defender Taylor Shronk and senior goalie Haley Mitchell faced a two-on-two breakaway.
As Mitchell sent Shronk out to take on Liberty’s Erin Dombach, the ball was passed to another Flame player, who turned and shot the ball towards the left side of the cage. Shronk dove back to make the defensive save, but Dombach followed the rebound, ending Temple’s chances of victory with her first score of the match.
The Flames’ 30 total shots compared to Temple’s 12, and the Owls dropped their sixth straight game to a ranked opponent, losing 3-2 to the No. 13 team in the National Field Hockey Coaches Association coaches’ poll.
“I think that we stayed really composed and worked well together today,” senior forward Tricia Light said. “Obviously we didn’t get as many shots as we wanted, but we put away the opportunities that we needed to. We just really focused on working together, believing in each other, and trusting each other, and that’s where we are moving forward.”
The Owls scored first in the 29th minute on a breakaway goal from sophomore midfielder Maiyah Brown off of a pass from Light. The two teams remained scoreless for the rest of the period, in which Liberty outshot Temple 11-7.
Five minutes into the second half, Liberty found the back of the net on a Sarah Gipe goal, and 15 minutes later, took the lead on a tally from Pippa Best.
As time wound down on the match, the Owls started pushing the ball and going on the attack. With nine minutes left in regulation, Light made a play for her team.
Junior midfielder Paige Gross passed the ball to Light in the center of the field, and the senior forward moved into the striking circle, and smacked the ball, watching it hit the black bottom of the cage as she tied the game.
“Once you get open, you have to stay composed because you can’t get frantic [in that situation],” Light said. “I saw that I could one-time the shot, and decided not to, so I could get my body behind the ball. I just put it in the back of the goal, and when you get the ball in that position as a forward you just have to put it away. Those were the moments when we needed it.”
With the score locked at two and the seconds ticking away, the intensity increased.
“The intensity did pick up,” Mitchell, who finished the game with 12 saves, said. “We knew that we had to use each other, and we really did try to slow it down a little bit to control the ball and possess it. We had really good energy all throughout the game, and we just built off that with every period.”
Although Liberty outshot the Owls 10-1 in the extra time, neither team scored for the rest of the game until Dombach found the net just more than six minutes into the second overtime period.
“We have seen a lot of adversity this year,” Freeman said. “And we have to step above and beyond that. You know, every team has adversity. We have to continue to believe that we can succeed in those difficult times. I think that to be able to step up in those situations is something that we’ve done well all year, but we’re done chasing.”
The Owls have until Friday afternoon to prepare for their first Big East Conference game of the year when they play the number one team in the country, the University of Connecticut, at 2 p.m. at home.
Matt Cockayne can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter at mattcockayne55.
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