While it looked strikingly similar to a contest two weeks ago, the outcome was not what the field hockey team had hoped for.
The Owls’ 2-1 overtime loss to Massachusetts on Friday in the first round of the Atlantic Ten Conference Championships showed just how close the two teams matched up against one another.
The A-10 semifinal had the feeling of the Owls’ 2-1 victory against UMass on Oct. 23. A few early goals. A strong second half defensive effort. All the pieces were in place.
Even the statistics between the two games were similar, as the Owls outshot and gained more penalty corners than UMass in both games.
The overtime period was the difference-maker in both instances. The Minutewomen, who didn’t register a shot in the early season overtime session, controlled the tempo of the extra period from the beginning. UMass registered five shots in OT, while Temple had just one. UMass therefore dominated the offensive end in the extra session, with one shot ringing off the cage post.
The Minutewomen broke through the Temple defense with ease in overtime, something they had a difficult time doing for the first 70 minutes of the game. UMass’ Erin Parker scored the game-winning goal, capping an overtime period that was all UMass.
Senior forward Melissa Fritze said the result of October’s game against UMass had a part in Temple’s lackluster effort in Friday’s overtime defeat.
“We did not have a sense of urgency,” Fritze said. “I think we thought ‘Oh, we had overtime last time, we are going to dominate them.’ That sense of urgency wasn’t there. We were too relaxed.”
Senior defender Ashley Shepps agreed with Fritze.
“The extra energy we needed for overtime; we just didn’t have it,” she said.
Despite the overtime period, assistant coach Ryan Langford said the coaching staff felt that there wasn’t much more they could do to win the game.
That’s just the way the ball bounces sometimes,” Langford said.
Shepps said Parker’s breakaway goal exhibited some flaws in the Owls’ defense.
“Our weakness all year is that we have been getting beat on breakaways,” Shepps said. “That’s what happened in this game – we got beat on the breakaways.”
Despite Shepps’ opinion, Langford praised his team for a great defensive effort.
“I thought the defense played outstanding,” he said. “Obviously UMass had scouted us heavily since our last meeting. They made some adjustments and our girls were able to think on their feet and deal with it quite easily.”
The offense’s inability to take advantage of its opportunities in the second half did not help the Owls’ defense. Temple had seven penalty corners in the half, its third-highest total in a half this season. The corners lead to the Owls’ seven shots, with one finding the back of the net.
Or so the Owls thought.
Temple’s second half goal was called back after it was ruled that the ball went off a foot, not a stick.
Temple’s lone shot early in overtime was the only other chance the Owls would get, as UMass spent most of the overtime in their offensive end.
The call to disallow the regulation goal, according to senior forward Melissa Fritze, frustrated the team.
“After that call-back goal, we were definitely plugging away,” Fritze said. “I really felt like we were going to get a goal. It was all over. Especially for me, there were a couple opportunities where I could have gotten a goal.
“We just weren’t putting them in. And that’s the most disappointing thing about this.”
Greg Otto can be reached at email@example.com.