In this weekend’s Temple Invitational Tournament, the Temple field hockey team soared to great heights, but ultimately finished on a low point.
The Owls played an impressive tournament opener against Towson, peppering the Tigers with 14 shots on goal, while allowing only five.
Temple’s Virginia Gonzalez, a native of Reading, Pa., scored the first goal of the game late in the first half. Goalies Serene McGrath and April Herman combined for seven saves and freshman Susan Nase sealed the victory with a goal early in the second half.
The Owls’ 2-0 first-round victory secured a berth in Sunday’s tournament championship game.
North Carolina took out Iowa in Saturday’s other first round match-up and the stage was set for an Owl-Tar Heel final.
In the final game the Owls played courageously but were overmatched on the scorching hot Geasey Field turf.
A talent-laden Tar Heel squad took the tournament championship with a convincing 6-1 win.
The Owls actually took a 1-0 lead in the game as Gonzalez punched in a goal, her second of the tournament, with 22:39 left in the first half. But the Heels would own the game for the final 60 minutes as they scored six unanswered goals.
North Carolina was led by Kristen McCann who scored four goals.
McGrath put up a fight, scrapping together 17 saves in the face of 38 Tar Heel shots. But North Carolina dominated the game, and the scoreboard, on its way to the Temple Invitational Tournament title.
In hindsight, there is a bright side for the Owls.
Temple coach Lauren Fuchs entered the season with a much larger team than in years past, offering more flexibility and possibly leading to a much stronger season showing.
“With teamwork any player could … create a spark,” Fuchs said.
The Owls finished last season second in the Atlantic 10, losing in the conference championship game. Coach Fuchs hopes that the experienced upperclassmen battling alongside the talented freshman will create a winning recipe.
Offensive captains Jill Polmateer and Jessica Jaworski intend to lead the team and create a good foundation for the other players. Defensively, captains Michelle Murawski and Virginia Gonzalez have been solid players in past years, and hope to lead a strong defensive scheme.
The Owls kicked off their regular season with games versus Ursinus and Lehigh.
At Collegeville, Pa., on Sept. 2, Temple soared past Ursinus with a 5-1 victory.
Senior midfielder Kacy Ziomek netted one goal and assisted on two others. The Owls pummeled Ursinus with 20 shots on goal in a totally dominant performance.
Temple put its 1-0 record on the line the very next day at home against Lehigh dropping a heartbreaker, 1-0. Temple attacked Lehigh goalie Margo Smith with 20 shots, but Smith finished the game with 15 saves and shut the Owls out.
McGrath allowed a goal to Lehigh’s Shelley Trumbore and that was enough to seal the Owls’ fate.
Despite the narrow defeat, however, Temple freshman Rachel Kasper was named A-10 rookie of the week.
Kasper, a 5-foot-6 center from Hunlock Creek, Pa., had six interceptions against Ursinus and another eight versus Lehigh.
The Owls have been bobbing up and down this season, with a 2-2 record, thus far.
The A-10 conference season doesn’t start until a Sept. 29 match-up at LaSalle. Games against opponents with national reputations like North Carolina’s should help come league play regardless of early wins or losses.
Temple field hockey faced another difficult non-conference test Wednesday, travelling to take on the Blue Hens of Delaware. The Owls’ next home game will be against Hofstra on Saturday, Sept. 16 at Geasey Field at 12 noon.