Heading into this season, Temple had two capable goalkeepers on its roster.
Instead of going the traditional route – naming one a starter and the other a backup – coach Bonnie Rosen decided she wanted both of them to play.
“They called us into the coaches’ office and said, ‘Listen you’re both going to play,’” redshirt sophomore Jaqi Kakalecik said.
Kakalecik said although both she and junior Rachel Hall can be competitive, that competing for a starting job probably wasn’t the best thing for the team.
They were told what was going to happen a week or two before the season started, and have combined for all 60 minutes in each game since. Hall takes the first half, and then Kakalecik takes over in the second.
“I think it’s a really good match for our team and strategy,” Rosen said following Temple’s season opener against St. Joe’s, a 11-7 win. “We’re always looking to obviously change things, but we’re both pretty committed to it. I think they’re both great goalkeepers and it gives us two different looks in each half.”
Both Hall and Kakalecik bring different styles, strengths and weaknesses.
“We both bring a different type of momentum to a game,” Hall said. “The way that we play can definitely change how our team plays as well, and how our defense plays. They’re both different styles, which can throw teams off because they’re used to playing with the same goalie the whole time. With the change, it can throw them off.”
Opposing teams can also get thrown off by another aspect.
“[Rachel] is a lefty so that kind of throws off the other team a lot,” Kakalecik said.
It may be a small detail to some, but it can be one that causes frustration for any shooter that doesn’t take the time to recognize it.
“A lot of goalies are stronger on their stick-side,” Kakalecik said. “If [shooters] don’t take an extra second to see if it’s a left or a righty, they’re going to shoot to [Rachel’s] stick-side, probably.”
That sets up a chance for Hall to make an easier save, and by the time opponents have adjusted to a left-handed goalkeeper, they have to go back and readjust to a right-handed one when Kakalecik comes in.
“It definitely throws shooters off with two different goalies in different halves,” Hall said.
There are differences in play-style between the two, but the defense in front of them hasn’t had to make many changes from half to half as a result.
“We don’t really have to make any adjustments,” Hall said. “We both interact with the defense the same way, we both talk to the defense the same way. We use the same terminology, so that doesn’t change for our defense. We just make sure to stay on the same page.”
Over the past couple of years, both goalkeepers’ games have improved thanks in part to the help of assistant coach Jennifer Wong.
“I came in with very little technique and just relied on my athleticism,” Kakalecik said. “Jen has basically taught me everything I know about being a goalie so far, she really just kind of bashed in the fundamentals the past two years and I think Rachel would agree. She came in with a little bit more technique than I did, but Jen has really just primed our technique over the years.”
Currently 2-4, the Owls have gotten off to a rough start, but they have shown signs of a resurgence. The Owls lost to Denver 12-9 on Saturday, but rallied late to outscore the Pioneers 5-3 in the second half. The 9-4 deficit from the first was too much to come back from.
“I think our defense has become a lot better,” Kakalecik said following Saturday’s game. “We implemented a new defense, a zone, where the first couple games we were just playing the man. That’s been working really well for us and, the transition has been really good, and the attack today was so into place, so it seems like everything is just about to click. That’ll be when the season turns around a little bit.”
“We have to work hard every single day and put everything in, and just play our best so we can keep getting better,” Hall said.
Nick Tricome can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @itssnick215.