Coach Lauren Fuchs knows the speed of a field hockey game is tough to endure for the full 70 minutes. That’s why she constantly throws substitutes into her rotation.
On Saturday, however, the Owls couldn’t handle the speed for even three minutes.
Temple was overwhelmed by No. 11 Richmond, 4-0, to open Atlantic Ten play with a loss at Geasey Field on Saturday. Richmond was on the board at 33:04 in the first half and scored again just four minutes later, putting the game virtually out of reach.
In a rematch of last season’s conference championship game, the Owls (6-6, 0-1) were simply outmatched against the Spiders. Temple registered just one shot the entire game, coming off the stick of senior forward Andrea Duva. The shot not only went wide of the cage and uncontested, but it came in the second half. The Owls didn’t penetrate the offensive zone until the 15th minute of the first half.
“We were all over the place today,” Fuchs said. “We needed to be passing harder and sooner and being a little more deceptive. We need to start staying lower on the ball, because we were getting beaten to the ball [by Richmond.]”
Along with a clear shortage of offense, the Owls found themselves constantly trying to defend. Richmond junior Holly Cram, the A-10 leader in points, scored two minutes into the game. She assisted on two other goals, giving Richmond a 3-0 edge at intermission.
“That first goal really got to us and hurt us,” Fuchs said. “Something we were trying to do all game was to make sure they earned their own opportunities. We just did a bad job of that.”
Instead, the Owls were too busy creating opportunities for the Spiders. Turnovers and offside calls provided Richmond with six opportunities to score from the corner.
In the second half, Richmond senior Danica Haupt added an insurance goal with 12 minutes left.
Aside from scoring and shots, the Spiders held the advantage in fundamentals, too.
Stronger stick-handling and accurate passes aided Richmond’s fastbreak style of play, which, at times, seemed too quick for Temple to keep up with.
Junior back Talia Ruth said it was not the halftime lead or their inability to put shots on net that cost them the game. Ruth conceded her team’s inconsistency and slowness to the ball were critical to the loss.
“We didn’t create a whole lot [of opportunities] for our offense,” Ruth said. “When we were on defense, they [Richmond] were running circles around our press, I thought. We ended up throwing a lot of our passes cross-field and that just wore us down. We didn’t do what we were supposed to do and that was to create opportunities.”
In making no saves, Spider goalkeeper Michelle Swartz continued her unbelievable scoreless streak. Swartz hasn’t allowed a goal in 245 minutes of play, dating back to the last week of September. Saturday’s win marked her sixth shutout.
On the season, the Owls have lost five of six games to top 20 opponents. Since the inaugural meeting between the two teams in 1998, Temple has yet to defeat Richmond in a regular season game.
After just one game against A-10 competition, Temple will play a non-conference game against Pennsylvania tomorrow at 7 p.m. It is the second of two night games Temple will play this season.
Jane Cantanzaro-Delaney and Mandy Moore-O’Leary are among the best to ever suit up for the Temple field hockey program. On Friday, the two were honored for their illustrious careers, being inducted into the Temple Athletics Hall of Fame.
Cantanzaro-Delaney was a four-time all-American selection. The 1991 graduate is the all-time scoring leader in NCAA history, totaling 254 points in a four-year career. O’Leary, a three-time all-American, led the Owls to the NCAA championship game in her senior season in 1988. She also was named most valuable player of the Final Four that year.
Christopher A. Vito can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.