Field hockey earns third seed in A-10 tournament

Temple's #44 Senior Forward Bridget Settles
JAZMYNE ANDERSON TTN Senior forward Bridget Settles (left) and freshman forward Amber Youtz break away from Liberty defenders in the Owls’ 3-0 win on Friday at Geasey Field. Settles leads the team in points (40), goals (18), and game-winning goals (6) this season. The Haddon Township, N.J. native is listed among the Top 20 goal scorers nationally with an average of .90 goals scored per game.

The field hockey squad gears up for the A-10 Tournament.

This season for the field hockey team has been challenging, to say the least. The Owls head into the Atlantic Ten Conference Tournament on Friday as the third seed, however, the season was not as smooth as a team who went 4-2 in A-10 play would lead one to believe.

The Owls always preach that they are “TUFH” and tough is exactly what they’ve had to be this season. The Cherry and White have had to face three teams who rank in the Top 10 nationally and five others in the Top 30. The Owls went 4-10 out of conference and were struggling going into A-10 play towards the end of the season.

However, with the leadership from senior captains midfielder Kaylee Keener and forwards Caryn Lambright and Bridget Settles, as well as the mental toughness of the youth of the team, the Owls were able to keep it together and fight through this season.

“[A-10] play is the most important part of the season,” Keener said. “When I first saw our out of conference schedule, I knew it would be a challenge.”

“We knew playing those games would help our team get better and stronger for when we face our own conference,” Keener added. “Looking back on it, it really has helped us.”

The Owls were six games under .500 at one point in the season and suffered a five-game losing streak at the end of September. But the Owls have turned it around since their mid-season struggles and ended up as the third-best team in the conference.

“Things weren’t going well in the middle of the season,” Keener said. “As a senior and a captain you look at yourself and say, ‘What am I doing wrong?’ But our team is so resilient, and we all rally and feed off of each other and that helps so much.”

“Nobody wants to let their teammates down and you keep playing hard because you can’t let them down,” Keener added.

Freshman forward Amber Youtz has been another key player in the Owls’ run. As a freshman, she’s started every game and scored eight points this season. Youtz has impacted the defense throughout the year as well, playing 16-yard hits and creating numerous offensive chances for her team.

“There has definitely been a lot to take in,” Youtz said. “It’s so much different than playing in high school. When you play here, everyone has a role assigned and you try to do it to the best of your ability.”

The team’s chemistry and camaraderie has been another crucial reason for why the Owls have overcome their midseason obstacles and are knocking on the door for an A-10 Championship.

“When the season was going through a rough patch, as a freshman I really rallied around the point that this is the seniors’ last year,” Youtz said. “Let’s make it as memorable and great as we can because I just went through that feeling last year being a senior in high school.”

The Owls proved they can compete with and beat some of the best teams in the A-10. Earlier in the season Temple defeated one of the best teams in the conference in Richmond. They were able to travel to Saint Joseph’s and blast the Hawks on their dedication day to their brand new field. They beat LaSalle whose goaltender, redshirt-freshman Lisa Shaffer, owns the best save percentage (.816) in the country.

Taking a look at the field for the A-10 Tournament, other top contenders for the conference crown will be top-seeded Richmond and No. 2 Massachusetts.

The Spiders (13-6, 5-1 A-10) are led by senior forward Katelin Peterson who leads the team in goals, assists, points and game winning goals. The Owls defeated the Spiders 2-1 at home on Oct. 14.

Massachusetts (7-10, 5-1 A-10) will most likely be Temple’s toughest competitor in the tournament. The Minutewomen handed the Owls a loss in A-10 play. Temple met Massachusetts on Oct. 23 for Senior Day at Geasey Field. The Owls led the entire game until the Minutewomen scored with three minutes left in regulation, and then once more in overtime to steal one from the Cherry and White, 2-1.

“Most likely we will see [Massachusetts] again in the Atlantic Ten Championship,” Lambright said. “We let one get away from us when we played them the first time. We have a bad taste in our mouth after that first meeting.”

Kieran McCauley can be reached at kieren.mccauley@temple.edu.

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