The Temple and Saint Joseph’s field hockey teams each entered Saturday’s season finale with winning streaks of five and three games, respectively. The Owls left Finnesey Field with their streak intact.
The Owls won their sixth straight game, 4-2, capturing their first regular season Atlantic Ten Conference title and solidifying the top seed in this week’s A-10 tournament. The Owls will rematch the Hawks in the semifinals Friday, again playing at Finnesey Field.
The win improved the Owls’ record to 15-5 overall and 6-1 in the A-10.
The Hawks found themselves on top early in the game, thanks to a goal by Jen Wrublesky, but the lead soon vanquished when Temple’s Mandi Ruth assisted Dannah Brehm on a goal less then five minutes later to tie the game, 1-1.
That score remained until halftime.
“We weren’t keeping good possession of the ball,” coach Amanda Janney said of the Owls’ first-half play.
Her instructions for the second half: “We just have to play a little bit tougher defense and pick up the passing.”
The Owls did exactly that.
“The girls were just really fired up to start the half,” Janney said. “We knew we needed the win, [the girls have] been wanting first place so bad all season.”
Brehm said Janney “told us the things we were doing wrong and we talked about what we could do to improve. We concentrated on that in the second half and we came out pretty fired up, because we wanted to win.”
The Owls needed to be fired up to start the second half if they wanted to score. Hawks goaltender Rebecca Cunfer entered the game owning a goals against average of 1.03, tops in the A-10. Cunfer had only allowed two goals in her five games.
The Owls were not amused by this stat, as Brehm connected with her second and third goals within the first minute of the second half, completing a hat trick and handing Temple a 3-1 lead. Both goals were assisted by Alli Lokey.
Lokey later tallied her 18th goal of the year with 9:14 left.
Kellie Walter scored for Saint Joseph’s with three minutes left in the game but by then, the game was well at hand.
“We really rely on our communication,” senior Nadia Clendening said of the defense. “That was on today. It was all across the field, especially in the backfield.”
Janney’s expecting the defense to be strong this weekend, when the Owls seek to win their first A-10 championship since 1994.
“We just got to try to pass the ball a little bit quicker and make sure our defense is solid,” Janney said.
“Hopefully we’ll keep strong and continue with the championship,” Clendening said. “It would be awesome to walk out of here senior year with the championship.”
Nick Hollenstein can be reached at email@example.com.