So far, this season has proved to be more challenging than the members of the field hockey team originally expected.
The Owls opened the Temple Invitational with a 1-0 loss to North Carolina on Saturday, then dropped their fifth consecutive decision Sunday with a 2-1 loss to Villanova. Sunday’s match marked the fourth time the Owls have lost by one goal.
The Owls (1-5) have struggled offensively, as evidenced by their managing only 16 shots on their opponents’ goals in two games over the weekend. The Owls’ forwards missed many scoring opportunities in each of the two games, including a missed penalty stroke from junior forward Lindsay Holman against Villanova. Sophomore midfielder Ashley Bird scored the only goal of the weekend for the Owls, with four and a half minutes remaining in the Villanova game.
Defensively, though, the Owls look like they will be more consistent. Seniors Ashley Shepps and Katie Stevenson, along with sophomore Alli Lokey each contributed goal-saving defensive plays Saturday. Shepps and Stevenson also had saves against Villanova.
“Defensively, we [have] really worked as a team,” first-year coach Amanda Janney said. “The concepts that we’re working on defensively, we’ve really improved on.”
Adding to the depth of the team are defensive senior veterans Dannon Mehaffey, Talia Ruth and junior Megan Hannahoe.
Freshman goalkeeper Erin Hanshue has also been a reliable part of the defense for the Owls. Hanshue saved 12 shots against North Carolina and 8 of the 10 fired by Villanova. Despite the team’s poor record, Hanshue has allowed more than three goals just once this season, keeping the Owls close even in their losses. With the defense shored up, the Owls look to the experience of their seniors for answers on the offensive end of the field. Midfielder Jen Adamek and forwards Rachel Barber and Melissa Fritze all possess Atlantic Ten Conference tournament experience, which they say should help them win games.
“[The seniors] are focusing on motivation and just demanding more from everyone,” Stevenson said. “That’s our goal.”
Even with the experience, there are still weaknesses that need to be addressed. The Owls attribute their recent losses to concepts they are still working on in practice.
“Mentally, we’re just not on the same page,” Shepps said. “We do have some things that need to be fixed in our game.”
“There are just some little things that we just need to get more consistent with,” Stevenson added.
Despite the losses, the players said they are still confident they can turn the season around with the help of Janney, who they said has been nothing but a positive influence on the team. Janney comes to Temple with two years of experience as an assistant at Penn. She also had a successful career playing at Wake Forest.
“She’s really doing a great job, especially since it’s her first year here,” Stevenson said.
For her part, Janney said she is excited to be a part of Temple’s field hockey program, which advanced to the A-10 semifinals last season.
“We’re improving on a lot of things and we’re just getting better with every game that we play,” Janney said. “We can only move forward from here, so I’m happy to be a part of this.”
Melissa DiPento can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.