Sunday was a test.
A 3-0 run was a good start to Temple’s season, but a road matchup against No. 4 Duke was a chance to gauge where the Owls really are.
“Not that the other teams that we played against aren’t good, they’re obviously very strong,” junior midfielder Alyssa Delp said. “But Duke is a team that is at the top and if we could keep with them then we could keep with anybody.”
Despite a strong second half, the Owls struggled to find the back of the cage against the Blue Devils and were shut out 3-0 in their first loss of 2014.
“We tried some different things,” coach Amanda Janney said. “”We just weren’t executing as usual.”
Duke (4-0) held the Owls (3-1) to three shots in the first, and jumped out to a 2-0 lead with goals from freshman forward Ashley Kristen in the 18th minute and freshman defender Alexa Mackintire in the 29th.
Blue Devils senior forward Jessica Buttinger came up with the final goal off a tip-in with just more than 11 minutes into the second half.
The Blue Devils outshot Temple 17-11 for the day, but despite a rough start out of the gate, the Owls managed to outshoot last year’s runner-up in the NCAA Tournament 8-3 in the latter half.
“We really turned it on in the second half,” Janney said. “[We] got a lot of shots on the cage, and good opportunities. We played much better in the second and just gave up some little mistakes in the first half that hurt us.”
“It opened it up,” Delp, who had four shots (two on goal), said of the second half. “We just had to put the ball in and we didn’t do so.”
Temple also drew eight penalty corners on Sunday, collecting four in each period. The Owls just couldn’t convert on any of them.
“I think we just needed to increase our creativity a little bit on our corners,” senior midfielder and co-captain Nicole Kroener said. “Add some more deception. I think they were a little bit too easy to read.”
The Owls hadn’t had much success against Duke heading into Sunday. The Blue Devils were 8-1 all-time against the team, and were winners of the last seven contests.
Temple will have its home opener this Friday against Delaware (currently ranked No. 18). The Blue Hens are 3-2 after losing their last matchup against No. 2 North Carolina, 5-1.
The Owls are ready to open up at home after beginning their season with the Conference Cup Tournament in Lancaster, and then with the weekend road trip that followed.
“We’re really just itching to get back on our home field,” Delp said. “Run to our warmups, do our warmup traditions and get back in the flow.”
Nick Tricome can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @itssnick215.