Not even déjà vu works like this.
For the fifth straight year, the field hockey team’s season ended in the Atlantic Ten Conference semifinals. Last Friday, the Owls lost to Richmond, 4-3, in an overtime shocker at Geasey Field.
Despite a remarkable late-game comeback, in which the Owls netted two goals in the final three minutes, their effort was rendered null by a controversial goal.
“Our defender made a great tackle,” coach Amanda Janney said. “She had her stick on the ball, and their forward ran her over, pushed her down, knocked her stick out of the way and proceeded to dribble through and hit the ball [into the net].”
With 2:32 left in regulation, Owls junior forward Dannah Brehm overwhelmed a back-pedaling Spider defense, scooped up the loose ball and sidestepped past Richmond senior goalkeeper Becca Weaver before tapping in the goal.
The pendulum continued to swing further in the Owls’ direction as a corner call was awarded with two minutes to play. The centering pass by junior forward Charise Young was botched, but the Owls quickly got back in position. Junior forward Mandi Ruth came up with the ball and slammed it into the back of the net to tie the game at 3-3.
“Momentum,” senior defender Mary Catherine Kinneman said. “We finally had them on their heels, and we were finally pressing them in. We were able to capitalize on a couple mistakes that they made.”
An explosion of emotion rippled through Owls’ players and fans alike, and when the horn sounded ending 70 minutes of play, they geared up for 15 more.
Unfortunately, the Spiders would only need 53 seconds. Overtime consists of six-on-six play and a goalie for each team. That left plenty of open field for Richmond junior forward Sarah Blythe-Wood to score the game-winning goal.
Janney believed there was foul play involved, and the “no-call” resulted in a disadvantage for her team.
“I felt like it was a foul against them, and we should have been getting a free hit instead of them allowing the goal to happen,” Janney said. “They were calling fouls like that earlier in the game, so I felt it was a little inconsistent.”
Regardless of the drama, the Owls were proud of the way they battled back.
“It was really important to me that as a team we didn’t give up, and I think that’s kind of been the theme of our whole season,” Kinneman said. “We’ve had some rough breaks, and we really haven’t given up.”
The game started like many others, with an ebb and flow between each team’s attacks. Then the fireworks began, as Spiders sniper Megan Thompson knocked home a goal at the 22:28 mark in the first half.
Another tally just minutes later had Owls fans reeling, and the scoreboard reading 2-0 in favor of the visitors. The Spiders continued to move the ball well in the first half and kept the Owls at bay with more pressure. The Cherry and White offense stalled due to poor stick-to-stick passing and the solid defensive fortification surrounding Weaver.
In the second half, both sides exchanged blows. First it was Brehm, who made a phenomenal stick-handling deke to get into the scoring circle and pounded a shot into the goal.
Next, it was Thompson who struck again, this time with 16:01 to play. The junior forward devilishly slipped behind the Owls’ defense for an easy cherry-picker goal. With the game now 3-1, it would take an error by the Spiders’ defenders and a heads-up play by Brehm to trim the lead.
The loss means the Cherry and White will finish their season 8-12 and under .500 for the first time in Janney’s four years at Temple. But the team rallied down the stretch to make a postseason game even possible.
“We’ve come a long way this season,” Janney said. “We’ve gotten better every game, which makes us happy as a coaching staff that they have really improved.”
Anthony Stipa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.