Winning a championship is hard. Defending it is harder.
The lacrosse team is preparing to retain its Atlantic Ten Conference Championship with the same principles that got it there last year. Third-year coach Bonnie Rosen said sound fundamentals, maintaining possession and a full-field defense will keep the Owls in contention to repeat.
“We’re young, but we have the keys to reach success,” Rosen said.
Young would be the right word to describe the Owls, as they have nine freshmen on the 2009 roster. All are expected to step in and fill the void left by the seven players who graduated last year.
Of the “Fresh Nine,” five are midfielders, a position that juniors Chelsea Rosiek and Lindsey Colferai will man and teach to new Owls like Karly Cohen, Jackie Mercer and Allison McWilliams.
Rosiek will be one of Rosen’s top snipers, as she is the top returning scorer from last season. The midfielder from Blue Bell, Pa., started all 20 games last season and posted 43 points (27 goals, 16 assists). Senior defender Lauren Carey and junior midfielder Alison Incarnato will also see significant playing time while leading the Owls this year.
“Players’ abilities are still emerging. All we have to do is believe in ourselves,” junior co-captain Tracy Zimmer said.
Zimmer will play a pivotal role on defense with Carey, while starting goaltender junior Jessica Colucci will try to stop anything from hitting the back of the net.
Colucci takes over the starting role after posting a 3-1 record last season as a sophomore.
“My main goal this year is to really step up and lead the defensive end by making the big saves,” she said. “The older players have to work harder than ever and start to teach the youngsters.”
Colucci’s teammate and co-captain senior attacker Andrea DeSabato couldn’t agree more.
“We’re all still finding our style of play,” DeSabato said. “A lot of players will be put into roles that they’re not used to, but all we have to do is take it one game at a time.”
DeSabato’s role for Temple will be a big step up from last year.
After playing in 17 games and netting three goals, she will be looked at as a player to watch in 2009 for the Cherry and White.
Senior attacker Brittney Hoffman is one of many whom Rosen considers to be leading the squad by example. Hoffman had 26 points last season, the second most of any returning player for Temple behind Rosiek.
That leadership will focus on getting the Owls up for certain games, as they have a few dates circled on their calendars already, one being a conference match against archrival Richmond April 5. The Owls still have a bitter taste in their mouths after the Spiders took an 11-10 double overtime victory in Richmond, Va., last season.
“We’re still preparing for out-of-conference play, but the A-10 only gets better every year,” Rosen said. “We’ll have our girls prepared to win. We can’t take anything for granted.”
DeSabato, Zimmer and Colucci are also looking forward to dueling with Massachusetts April 11 in Amherst, Mass.
Temple clinched the A-10 Championship after destroying the Minutemen, 10-3.
“Yeah, they’ll want revenge,” Zimmer said. “We beat them when it counted, and they’ll want this championship just as bad as we do.”
The season starts with a three-game homestand on Wednesday against Rutgers at 3 p.m.
Christian Audesirk can be reached at email@example.com.