For the second straight Saturday, Temple lost a highly anticipated conference matchup against a first-year Big East team. This week, the Owls fell to Vanderbilt, a squad that was riding an eight-game losing streak and had just three wins before the weekend.
“We have to get better on game day,” redshirt-junior goalkeeper Jaqi Kakalecik said. “We are putting in the work in practice, and on game day, I think we are getting flustered. We are trying to find the next level in our game and I know we can play much better than what we have displayed the last two games.”
The game was scoreless for almost eight minutes, until Vanderbilt’s Caroline Peters scored her first of three goals with 22 minutes, 7 seconds left in the first half. Less than a minute later, Owls junior attacker Rachel Schwaab responded with her seventh goal of the season.
For the next 15:59 seconds, the Commodores went on a 3-0 run to make it 4-1, getting scores from three separate players, including junior attacker Mallory Schonk, who ended the game with a hat trick. The two teams traded goals for the rest of the half, as Temple got tallies from midfielders Megan Tiernan and Morgan Glassford, putting the halftime score at 6-3.
Despite the deficit, Temple actually outshot Vanderbilt and committed fewer turnovers in the first period. Junior midfielder Megan Tiernan talked about defense being an issue in the first half.
“Especially in the first half, we didn’t crash enough,” she said. “We didn’t crash enough on the cutters, and we didn’t hedge fast enough on their players. We also need to talk more on defense if we want to win.”
Vanderbilt scored three of the first four goals to open the second half, but with 19:48 left in regulation, senior attacker Macie Hauck’s sixth tally of the season started a 3-1 Temple run that brought the Owls back within striking range.
Another Vanderbilt goal made the score 11-7, but junior attacker Nicole Tiernan’s second score of the game with 7:28 left again cut the deficit to three.
Vanderbilt’s offense was too much, however, as the Commodores scored three straight goals to end the game, including one with four seconds left on the clock.
Although the final score made the game seem like somewhat of a blowout, the Owls played the Commodores close throughout. Temple outshot Vanderbilt 27-23, committed four fewer turnovers, and dominated the draw controls, collecting 17 to Vanderbilt’s seven.
“We did do well with draws, but we would give it right back after we got the draw,” Nicole Tiernan said. “We would get the draw and we wouldn’t focus on the next step. We possessed the ball and wanted to do something with it right away. It’s about making the smart move, and we didn’t do a great job with it today.”
The saves count made a difference in the contest. Vanderbilt’s Maddie Kratz stopped 11 shots, while Kakalecik saved four.
“Vanderbilt is a great team,” Rosen said. “We need to execute better. Today was a game that required us to execute well, and we were back on our heels a bit. We didn’t take advantage of the momentum shift, and we are still learning to deal with the pressure of game day. We have to execute better than we did today against top teams.”
After today’s game, Temple moved to 0-2 in the Big East and 8-3 overall. It will have another chance to get a conference win against Connecticut this Wednesday at 3 p.m.
Matt Cockayne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @mattcockayne55.