Despite Lafayette starting the first period of its game against the Owls on March 2 with three unanswered goals, the stat sheet favored Temple by the end of the first period – again.
“I think we just come out strong, playing as a team,” freshman attacker Rachel Schwaab said.
Consistently being able to take several first half advantages against opponents has been important in leading Temple to its second consecutive 4-0 record.
“We have been trying to play a fast-paced game at times and see what we can find, so that leads to a lot of shooting,” coach Bonnie Rosen said.
In its 15-12 victory against the Leopards, Temple’s runs of three and five unanswered goals were created by early shot opportunities. At the end of the first period, Temple had a total of 18 shot attempts, scoring on half of them. In comparison, Lafayette recorded 13 shot attempts. Having the first half advantage in that category has been essential for the Owls all season.
“We’ve been trying to push an aggressive pace,” Rosen said. “An aggressive style that leads to taking a few more shots.”
In the second half of games, Temple has outshot its opponents 46-33, but in the first half, the disparity is much larger. During its four-game winning streak, Temple has attempted 70 shots in first halves, while opponents have attempted 38.
“We like to set the tone,” senior midfielder Charlotte Swavola said. “It’s something that we strive to do. And by setting a tone, you set an example. So that if the first line sets a tone, anyone coming in after that is part of it and is on the same wavelength.”
“We focus a lot on getting the right shots. Not taking the shots that we’re not sure of,” Schwaab said.
Of the 70 first half shot attempts, 53 have been on goal and 32 resulted in points for the Owls.
“Obviously we care most about finishing our shots not just taking shots,” Rosen said. “I think overall our attack has been smart and looking for good opportunities, taking risks when necessary. I’ve been happy with our overall offensive production.”
A 32 goal production off of 53 on goal attempts gives Temple a 60 percent scoring percentage in the first half. For the Owls, their shot percentage is largely attributed to their ability to stay poised and prepare in the days preceding games, Swavola said.
“It’s usually an experience thing to develop the discipline, to know what is a good opportunity and our younger players have had a really good head for it, so far,” she said. “We’re willing to work to get that really good look on goal, instead just the one that’s there right now.”
“As far as the good shooting percentage, we do a lot of individual work,” Swavola added. “We really promote it within our own team to go out, have the work ethic and discipline to go out and practice their shots.”
Other first half statistics have helped the Owls continue to add to their unblemished record. In the four games played this season, Temple has yet to go into the second period with a deficit on the scoreboard.
Evening the score or taking a lead going into halftime has played a crucial role in close wins against Rutgers and Lafayette, while big leads have given the Owls the cushion they needed to defeat Niagara and Lehigh.
“It’s always great to get out ahead in the goal scoring or to get out by a bunch of goals to give the cushion,” Rosen said. “It allows an early season team and a younger team to settle in. So it’s been great to take the lead early and it gives us the cushion to keep pushing without worrying about getting scored on.”
“I think we can be a lot better,” Rosen added. “I think there is a lot more to our game than what we’ve seen in terms of the way we’ve attacked, but really, this kind of goal production has been great.”
Against Lafayette, the Owls started the game poorly, but finished the first half strong, like they have four games in a row. With a quarter of the regular season at a close and a perfect record achieved, Temple will try to continue starting games with the same aggressive offense in hopes that it will continue breeding the same results.
Brien Edwards can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BErick1123.