Freshman goalkeeper impressing as Owls’ starter

Maddie Lilliock has started all six of the team’s games in goal.

Then freshman goalkeeper Maddie Lilliock follows the play as the Owls clear the zone in a Sept. 2, 2016 game against Penn State. She faced 18 shots on goal in a loss to the Nittany Lions on Friday. | PATRICK CLARK / TTN FILE PHOTO

There was an open competition for the Owls’ starting goalie spot this summer after last year’s starter Haley Mitchell graduated as a fifth-year senior.

Mitchell had to wait until her fifth year to start for the Owls in goal, but freshman Maddie Lilliock came to Temple with her eyes on the starting position.

After Lilliock and sophomore Chloe Johnson battled for the spot throughout the summer, Coach Marybeth Freeman informed Lilliock right before the first game of the year against Syracuse University that she had earned the job. She has yet to relinquish it through the team’s first six games.

“I’m really dedicated to field hockey,” Lilliock said. “I’ve been hitting the gym, going to different field hockey practices, getting lessons. Now that I get to work with Marybeth it’s even better, because she’s a fantastic goalie coach.”

Lilliock attended Lower Dauphin High School, where she was a dual-sport athlete, playing field hockey in the fall and softball in the spring. She was an all-state second baseman and played for the club field hockey team West Chester Eagles, where she competed at national indoor tournaments and showcases.

The Palmyra, Pennsylvania native didn’t start playing goalkeeper until her freshman year of high school when Lower Dauphin’s coach asked her to try the position. She committed to play for former coach Amanda Janney at Temple a year later as a sophomore.

When Freeman took over the Owls’ head coaching position in 2015, she and the rest of her coaching staff went through the process of revisiting and reevaluating each recruit. When it came to Lilliock, there was no doubt they would honor the previous regime’s offer.

“After we met with Maddie, we thought she would be a good fit for what we were trying to do,” Freeman said. “Because of her skill level, we welcomed her with open arms.”

Freeman played goalkeeper for Old Dominion University from 1998-2001 and helped the Lady Monarchs win two national championships. She said she’s liked what she has seen from her freshman goalie.

Lilliock notched her first win on Sept. 4 against La Salle, stopping 10-of-12 shots.  Her 8.67 saves per game ranks No. 7 in Division I and her 52 saves is second among Big East goalkeepers.

“I like her agility, and her reaction skills, [her] reaction time is top notch,” Freeman said. “I think she does a great job on second efforts. Her athleticism overall and knowledge of the game, at this level as a freshman, is really impressive.”

Freeman prefers to keep an open competition at every position from game to game. The players find out who is starting just prior to game time.

But it appears Lilliock has locked down the starting job. The first game of the season was against the defending national champion Syracuse, which ended in a blowout 8-0 loss. The coach did not waver in her trust with the young goaltender and sent her right back out to start against Saint Joseph’s, Penn State, La Salle, University of Delaware and Drexel.

“I know that she is just going to keep getting better and be a huge asset to our team,” senior midfielder Ali Meszaros said.

Nicholas Haas

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