Rumor has it some moron wrote in these pages a month ago that there wasn’t a Temple athletic team worth its salt playing this fall. He mocked an online poll, I’m told, for its attempt to equate any of the Owls’ sports teams with the word “successful.” He claimed he couldn’t wait for basketball season to start.
That moron was me. And on three counts, I’ve been proven wrong.
With the fall season winding down, a few of the hardier teams have stuck around a lot longer than I expected.
The field hockey team competed in its second straight Atlantic Ten championship this weekend, and the men’s soccer team is on its way to the postseason again after concluding the regular season with a 6-1 win over cross-city rival Saint Joseph’s. The volleyball team, meanwhile, is in the midst of wreaking its customary havoc on the rest of the A-10.
On Oct. 12, all three teams were sub-.500 and in need of strong showings against their conference opponents.
The men’s soccer team, 3-5 when it began its conference schedule, ended up flirting with a first-round tournament bye. The Owls begin their quest to return to the A-10 finals for the second straight year this Thursday in Washington, D.C.
The volleyball team, an atrocious 3-11 against non-conference opponents, has wiped out all comers in the A-10. The Owls appear certain to repeat as A-10 finalists this year.
The field hockey team never did achieve .500, finishing the regular season 9-10 overall, 3-4 in the A-10. They needed help from the outside to gain a place in the tournament, and were awarded the final seed only after West Chester lost its season finale. Last weekend’s A-10 championships did not grant fortune to the Owls, who drew conference powerhouse Richmond in the first round, but they played admirably to the end of a 4-0 loss.
Even if no Temple team emerges with an A-10 title, none of them should hesitate to label the 2004 season an overall success.
Each of the aforementioned teams was led by one of the most indispensable seniors in the history of the program. Soccer goalkeeper Patrick Hannigan posted another goals-against average among the league’s elite, setter Alison Runk has captained an inexperienced volleyball team back to prominence, and goalie Erin Conroy stood on her head for 20 games for a field hockey team that never managed to organize its offense.
All of them will move on at the end of this season with competent replacements ready to step in. Their teams are the only Temple squads with realistic chances to build for the future.
By Nov. 20, every fall team will be done for 2004. Any strides made this season will be looked upon as positives for next season’s outlook, and any personnel losses will be seen as critical holes that need to be filled.
All focus will be on 2005.
Any moron can see that.
Benjamin Watanabe can be reached at email@example.com.