Temple had no shortage of motivation when it came to beating Penn State in the first road trip of the year.
The Owls were playing a team that was ranked No. 6 in the country – one they hadn’t beaten in 30 years. Plus, the team was looking to bounce back from a loss to No. 2 Maryland a few days prior.
Senior Mandi Shearer, however, had a personal reason for wanting to beat Penn State.
The midfielder/defender and co-captain’s best friend, Abby Fuhrman, plays for the Nittany Lions. With both players in the final year of their collegiate careers, it was the last chance for Shearer to get the upper-hand.
Penn State has beaten Temple the past three years, winning each game by a four-goal margin. For Shearer, this year was going to be different.
“Of my four years, this is the year that I truly believe we are going to beat Penn State,” Shearer said prior to Friday night’s game in University Park. “It’s a little different for me because [Fuhrman] plays for Penn State, and this is the last time we will ever play each other again. So, I have a personal reason why I want to beat them so badly. But our team is just on a high right now and I really feel like we can do some damage.”
Shearer was right. Temple was firing on all cylinders Friday, shutting out the Nittany Lions 3-0 for its first win against the program since 1983.
“[Shearer] was really excited,” coach Amanda Janney said. “I think she has a lot of respect for Penn State and her best friend [Fuhrman] is a really good player that she knows from the central Pennsylvania area.”
“I think a lot of players on our team just had that feeling,” Janney added. “We just knew that we were prepared and we were excited to play, because we knew we had the chance to beat a great team like this.”
Shearer and Fuhrman are both from Bainbridge, Pa. and went to Elizabethtown High School.
Although they lived in the same neighborhood, Shearer said the two athletes didn’t become close until middle school.
“We became friends in the seventh grade when we started playing together,” Shearer said. “We went to middle school, high school and elementary school together.”
“We started playing every single sport together,” Shearer added. “We played softball together, we played basketball together, we ran track together, we even threw shot put together, and obviously we played field hockey together.”
The two were inseparable by high school, which made college a tough decision when the two of them chose to play for different schools.
However, Shearer was never completely separated from Fuhrman, thanks to a schedule that included Penn State in each of her four years here, which is something that Shearer is grateful for.
The only thing missing was a win against her friend’s team. That finally happened on Friday night, thanks to a solid all-around effort from the Owls.
“Like I said the other day, I went into this game truly believing that we were going to win, no doubt in my mind,” Shearer said. “That is exactly what happened and I could not be happier right now.”
“I told [Janney] that I don’t think I’m going to stop smiling the rest of the night,” Shearer added. “It is an unreal feeling and just to know that it was complete team effort. Every person on our team stepped up and played amazing today, [redshirt-junior goalkeeper Lizzy Millen] especially. It was just awesome and I could not be more proud of our team right now.”
Shearer isn’t the only one who got caught up in the excitement.
“I’m on cloud nine right now, it is such a good feeling,” senior midfielder/defender and co-captain Molly Doyle said after the win. “Going into the game, we were really confident that we could beat this team. I think this is just the best Temple team we have ever had. We just went in and knew that we could kill it and we did.”
Prior to the game, Shearer and Fuhrman had the chance to talk about their last time playing each other.
“We were both saying how, no matter what the outcome of the game, we are so excited to play on the field one last time together,” Shearer said. “We were both rooting for each other personally, hoping that we each did well.”
Nick Tricome can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @itssnick215.