The Owls have a lot of leadership and experience, but they aren’t short on youth.
Temple has eight freshman on the roster this season, with four of them already having an immediate impact on the team.
Midfielder/defender Michelle Walsh, midfielder Paige Gross, midfielder/forward Sarah Keer and forward Katie Foran have appeared in at least five of Temple’s nine games thus far.
But none of them expected to get on the field as quickly as they did.
“We all just came in and tried to work as hard as we possibly could, we just had to see what would happen,” Foran, who scored both of Temple’s goals in Friday’s win over Rutgers, said.
Nonetheless, the four of them have been getting playing time, getting the chance to contribute to possibly one of the biggest high points in the program’s history with the current three week stay in the nation’s top-20 rankings.
It took a lot of hard work for the Owls to get to the point where they are now and with half the season left to play, they have to continue playing well to keep their spot as one of the best teams in the nation.
The Owls run in 2013 started with offseason work in the spring and continued into the preseason. For the incoming freshmen, however, they had the added layer of making the adjustment from the high school to college level.
“It was a big adjustment from high school practices,” Gross said. “The first couple practices were running practices. That’s definitely an adjustment from high school.”
“It was just a big wakeup call,” Gross added. “It’s a lot more work than high school for sure.”
The freshmen also had to adjust to the off-the-field aspects as well. They had to get used to being away from home and get comfortable with their new teammates.
Fortunately, it wasn’t that hard of an adjustment—and a pretty fast one to make at that.
“All of us freshmen, when we first came into it, we were already really close together,” Foran said. “All preseason we were all together, so it was just really easy. Everybody’s really easy to get along with.”
“I think it’s easy when we live with our teammates too,” Walsh said. “So it makes it fun.”
“Everybody made it so easy to adjust,” Keer added. “It’s like a second home and we get to see our parents pretty much every weekend.”
Although Temple has been on the road just three times so far this season, traveling with teammates is an experience the freshmen believe helped bring the entire team even closer together.
“I think our away games have been the most memorable,” Walsh said. “That is where we had strong team bonding and everything.”
“It’s been really fun to get to know each other a little bit better and travel and then make memories outside of Philly,” Walsh added.
All four agreed on what the best trip was—the shutout of the then No. 6 ranked Penn State in Happy Valley.
“That was our moment when we were like, ‘Yeah we can do this,’” Walsh said.
“Especially that whole weekend,” Gross added. “Before the Penn State game [coach Amanda Janney] was like you have a chance to shock the world and we did. Then we had a game against Richmond, if we didn’t win that game it would have deflated our win against Penn State, so we came out strong against Richmond and I think we made a really great statement that weekend alone.”
Even before the game started, there was this sense that Sept. 6 was going to be the day Temple beat the Nittany Lions.
“Honestly before the game, I was hanging out with two girls in the other room and I was like, ‘There is seriously no doubt in my mind that we are going to win today,’” Keer said. “I didn’t know how we were going to win or how much it would be by but I knew we were going to win.”
The how ended up being a 3-0 shutout, a final score that made it clear the win wasn’t a fluke.
“It’s not like we just got away with it,” Foran said.
“It wasn’t a 1-0 win, a fluke, it was a convincing win,” Gross added.
The Owls kept the momentum going since, winning five of their last six games after playing Penn State, which awarded them with the No. 17 ranking.
Coming into their first year with a national ranking to the team’s name, the freshmen will have that expectation for their next three years.
“We’re used to being ranked now, so we’re going to have that mindset all four years, which I think will help us in our next three years,” Gross said. “I think we have that mindset where our teammates are the closest people to us besides our family, but they’re like a second family to us. They’re our family here at Temple and having that mindset now as freshman will just carry on and make the team better in the future.”