Coming off a disappointing loss in the Atlantic -10 championship game last year, the Temple field hockey team has started the season by winning their first three games.
Under ninth-year head coach Lauren Fuchs, the team won each of their games by one goal. Coaching and hard work was a big factor in deciding the close contests.
“This will hopefully be a springboard for the rest of the season,” Fuchs said. “I think we’ve gotten a little better with each game,”
Temple has beaten Lehigh, Ursinus, and William & Mary. They host Maine on Saturday at 11 a.m. at Geasy Field in the first round of the Temple Tourament. The championship and consolation rounds are on Sunday starting at 11 a.m.
Despite the good start nothing has come easy including Temple’s 4-3 victory Sunday over nationally ranked William & Mary.
The team needed two second-half goals by sophomore Melissa DeCesaris, including the game-winner with just 49 seconds remaining.
“That was one of my greatest feelings as a field hockey player,” DeCesaris said. “It was awesome to have such a great game against a ranked team.”
The team is not inexperienced when it comes to playing top caliber teams. They faced six nationally ranked teams last year on the road to the championship.
“We know we’ve got some tough games on the schedule,” Fuchs said. “We just want to work hard at every practice and try to gradually improve throughout the year.”
Although the team lost just six players there are only three returning players, who started all 22 games last season. The coaching staff isn’t too worried though because they have five of the A-10’s top rookies from a year ago.
Sophomores DeCasaris, Emily Moyer, Susan Nase, Rachel Kasper, and Haley Dervinis, are trying to have repeats of their fabulous rookie seasons.
“We knew they were great field hockey players coming out of highschool. We’ve also been getting solid play from rookies Andrea Duva, Talia Ruth, and Jillian Thomas,” Fuchs said.
Duva has already notched two goals and one assist in the early going of the season. With this in mind you really have to give the recruiting staff two thumbs up.
The big change is in net where Senior April Herman replaces Serene McGrath, who graduated after last season. Herman played in a few games last season but will now be the teams starting goalie.
“April’s time has come,” Fuchs said. “She’s played well in the past and we believe she’s ready to be a starter.”
Returning to the team is last years’ points leader, senior Kacy Ziomek. Ziomek scored a crucial overtime goal against Rhode Island in last seasons’ playoffs. Ziomek is undoubtedly one of the team leaders and should provide help to the younger players.
“Kacy provides an unspoken leadership,” Fuchs said. “She leads the team through actions instead of words. She goes out and gives 200 percent and the rest of the team follows.”
Fuchs is the teacher everyone looks up to. This is her ninth season as head coach and her philosophy hasn’t changed. Work hard and play as a team. Good things will come from following that guideline.
Senior mid fielder Joann Engestrom, who has three goals in three games, transferred from Towson University to Temple over the off-season in order to play for Fuchs.
“I am excited to work with her,” Engestrom said. “She was definitely one of the reasons I transferred to Temple.”
With the way the team has started, combined with the fact that they reached the finals one year ago, many fans believe that they will not only return to the championship game but this time they will bring home a title.
The coach knows that’s still a very long way from here.
“We know there’s a lot of work involved in order to get to the championship,” Fuchs said. “We’re just gonna try our hardest and take it one game at a time.”