Ever since her sophomore season in 2010, redshirt-senior goalkeeper Tara Murphy has seen the most playing time of any Owl goalkeeper. But with the addition of 15 freshmen to the roster this season, Murphy’s position, like every one on the team, has been up for grabs.
After Murphy started the first five matches of the season, freshman goalkeeper Shauni Kerkhoff has started the past two, with her first collegiate action in the fifth match of the season against the University of Pennsylvania on Sept. 2. She played the final 11 minutes of the match and recorded one save.
The decision to play Kerkhoff for the final 11 minutes was a tough choice, but Murphy was struggling against Penn, coach Matt Gwilliam said.
“For the past few years, [Murphy] has led this team and that is something that you can not take away from her,” Gwilliam said.
“I was a little worked up at times so my voice cracked because I was extremely nervous,” Kerkhoff said after her first collegiate appearance.
In the Penn match, Gwilliam said that along with Murphy not performing her best, he was also trying to get some experience for Kerkhoff against an experienced Ivy League team.
After the Penn match, Gwilliam chose to start Kerkhoff against Iona, ending Murphy’s starting streak of 16 straight matches for the Owls.
“Murphy has gotten us to where we need to be right now and she has done well. She has just had a couple of games where she knows she isn’t where she wants her game to be,” Gwilliam said.
With her first collegiate start, Kerkhoff shut down the Iona offensive attack while recording the first shutout of her career in the 1–0 Temple victory.
Despite the shutout, Kerkhoff admitted that she was a bit nervous at the beginning of the Iona match.
“I was shaking, literally, shaking for at least the first 30 minutes of the game,” Kerkhoff said. “But then I got in a rhythm.”
In the match, Kerkhoff recorded six saves on six shots on goal from an Iona team Gwilliam referred to as “blue collared.”
“[Kerkhoff] had an amazing save at the end that plucked off the post,” senior forward Morgyn Seigfried said. “She had a great first game.”
Seigfried scored the lone goal for the Owls in the Iona match, a goal that Kerkhoff said gave her security while in goal.
“I knew she would be nervous, but she did well and answered the call,” Gwilliam said.
After Iona, the decision for who to start in goal on Sunday, Sept. 9 at Princeton was still in the air, Gwilliam said.
“We look at all of our opponents and who we are playing and sometimes we just need to try different people,” Gwilliam said.
For the second straight match, Kerkhoff got the start. Kerkhoff saved six of seven shots in Temple’s 1-0 loss against Princeton.
“[Kerkhoff] has stepped up when we asked her to and has done a great job for us,” Gwilliam said.
Despite two strong starting performances on the season, Kerkhoff has not been named the starter for the Owls, Gwilliam said.
“Senior goalkeeper Gillian Kacsuta is another good, experienced goalie that is on our squad as well,” Gwilliam said.
Kerkhoff, surprised to be playing this season, said she is excited for the opportunity.
“I only expect to play in matches if I earn it,” Kerkhoff said.
On the season, Murphy has started in five of Temple’s matches, allowing eight goals and recording 36 saves.
Kerkhoff has been in goal on three occasions for the Owls this season, starting two matches while recording 13 saves and allowing one goal.
An interview request with Murphy was denied by Athletic Communications.
Both Murphy and Kerkhoff each have a home shutout on their record this season, as Murphy’s came against New Jersey Institute of Technology on Aug. 31 and Kerkhoff’s came against Iona on Sept. 7.
After Sunday’s game at Princeton, the two goalies, Murphy and Kerkhoff, have a combined 2–4–1 record in goal.
John Murrow can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @johnmurrow12.