Drexel beat the Owls on Sunday at Howarth Field with the power of their penalty corner goals. Temple (1-5) was left with a 3-1 loss after scoring on only one corner while Drexel scored on 3 of its 10 attempts.
The game started out with fairly even possession. The ball was confined between the 25 yard lines, with each team making brief pushes toward the circle. Temple tried a high shot early, but the first corner attempt went to Drexel. The insertion for the first corner was short, and caused confusion for both teams. Drexel gained possession on the left side and sent the ball to the top of the circle for a shot. Freshman goalkeeper Maddie Lilliock made her first of eight saves, clearing the ball out of danger.
Both teams took three corners each after that. No one found the back of the net until Drexel scored on its fourth corner of the game. Senior forward Idrienne Walker’s insertion found senior midfielder Jessica McCarthy’s sweet spot, and she slammed it past Lilliock.
With four minutes, 53 seconds left in the first half, less than six minutes after McCarthy’s goal, Temple scored on its sixth corner of the day. Junior forward Hattie Kuhns’ initial shot came off the Dragons’ goalkeeper and bounced down in the right side of the circle. Kuhns raced to the ball and flung it into the far corner before sophomore goalkeeper Erin Gilchrist could recover her feet.
“I knew the goalkeeper was really good [with straight shots], so after the initial shot I wanted to look for a rebound,” Kuhns explained. She added that most of Temple’s corner options used in the game were based on a straight shot.
Drexel retook the lead with less than a minute left in the first half. Lilliock made the initial direct save with a dive, but couldn’t get up in time. Walker, who started the play, found the rebound and put the ball past Lilliock.
In the second half, a spell of four consecutive corners by the Dragons failed to create a goal, but surely wore down the Owls’ defense. The Owls started missing their connections by a moment and turning the ball over to Drexel. The Owls only generated four shots in the second half, compared to 11 in the first 35 minutes.
The defense stayed tough, holding the Dragons above the defensive 25-yard line until late in the second half. Freeman said that “Drexel did a good job reading” Temple’s plays and that stopping corners comes down to executing the insertion, stop and timing under pressure.
With three and a half minutes left, freshman defender Becky Gerhart was put in at kicking back. A “kicking back” player has the privilege to use her feet in the defensive circle, but is otherwise simply an additional field player. Coach Marybeth Freeman hoped having a kicking back would give an offensive advantage.
“We are not afraid to pull the goalkeeper, we try to go for the win,” Freeman said.
The strategy, which had been utilized twice earlier this season, was not successful. Drexel forced one final corner in the last two minutes. Sophomore forward Megan Wiest received the insert and shot easily into the cage.
Despite a second straight loss, Freeman praised her players’ effort.
“Hattie [Kuhns] had a great game, she continues to be very dominant,” she said of the team’s third-leading point scorer.
Freeman also added that freshman midfielder Kathryn Edgar had “good control” in the middle, and said that Lilliock has been consistent.
Kuhns expects the team to “work on [corner] rebounds for sure” in the coming week. After losing their third game of the year to a city rival, Temple will open Big East play at home against Providence College at 6:05 PM on Friday.
Jay Neemeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @j_neemeyer.