Field hockey cannot hold off No. 1 UConn in second half

The Owls held UConn scoreless for the first half until the Huskies scored four goals in the final 18 minutes of the game to beat Temple, 4-1, Friday night at Howarth Field.

Junior backer Nellie Doyle sends the ball upfield in the Owls’ season-opening loss to St. Joseph’s on Aug. 25 at Howarth Field. | JAMIE COTTRELL / TTN FILE PHOTO

The Owls held Connecticut scoreless in the first half last night, becoming only the third team to do so this season.

Connecticut, the No. 1 team in Division I, dominated the possession of the ball in Temple territory during that first half, outshooting Temple 11-0 and taking five penalty corners. But Temple managed to keep the Huskies from finding the back of the goal and even continued its success into the first 17 minutes of the second half.

But in the final 18 minutes of the game, Connecticut poured in four goals to beat the Owls 4-1 at Howarth Field.

“There is no doubt that Connecticut is a talented team,” coach Marybeth Freeman said. “I think they play with a lot of finesse, and we are the complete opposite of that, which I absolutely love. I love that we’re gritty, scrappy and willing to do whatever it takes to get it done, and that is what I thought we showed today.”

Junior backer Nellie Doyle personified that grit on Friday, sustaining two injuries, but continuing to play. She first caught a stick to the face in the first half, which caused a cut above her right eye. The cut was bleeding profusely as she walked off the field, but after receiving medical attention and a bandage she came back on the field.

Doyle took another shot to the face in the second half, this time to her nose. The backer pleaded to stay in the game and was only off the field for a few minutes. Her resilience was applauded by fans and her teammates alike.

“You’re one tough player,” junior goalkeeper Chloe Johnson told Doyle as she came back on the field the second time.

“Nellie is the player that we teach our team to be personified,” Freeman said. “She is the definition of Temple tough and with players like her I have the utmost confidence in our team.”

But that toughness wasn’t enough to prevent UConn’s scoring outburst in the second half.

Connecticut knocked in its first goal of the game in the 53rd minute off of a penalty corner. Less than five minutes later, junior forward Amanda Collins scored her fifth goal of the season to give the Huskies 2-0 lead.

Temple answered the Huskies’ second goal almost immediately. Freshman forward Mia Sexton scored her first goal of her collegiate career.

“I feel awesome,” Sexton said. “I got a great ball in from [junior midfielder Jessika Daniels] after she made a diving play, and I was able to put the ball in the net.”

After Temple brought the game within one, Connecticut put in two quick goals to seal the win.

Johnson got her second straight start in net for the Owls. She had a 115-minute goalless streak between last week’s game against the College of the Holy Cross and Friday’s game until sophomore midfielder  Barbara van den Hoogen scored in the second half.

Next up for Temple is a game against Sacred Heart University on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Howarth Field.

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