Ignored program deserves more student support

The field hockey team continues to rise above other programs in the fall months.

Sure the pulse of the student body may be with the resurgent Temple football program. And, naturally, all of Temple athletics takes a backseat to men’s basketball. But while the basketball team has won less than 50 percent of its games since 2005, one program has won close to 65 percent.

It’s time to take a closer look into our own backyards.

This season, the field hockey team continues its winning ways. With two impressive shutout wins and a rain-soaked victory against No. 14 Boston University, the Owls opened up their 2008 campaign 3-0 for the first time since 2003.

On Sunday they suffered their first loss of the year to a challenging Ohio State squad and stand at 3-1. Currently they are not ranked but are receiving votes to be included in the NCAA’s Top 25.

Fourth-year coach Amanda Janney has given an identity to a previously mediocre program. And now it’s time to show more love to fall’s most successful sport.

The team has reached the Atlantic Ten Conference Championship semifinals in three consecutive seasons and looks to finally get over the hump and win it for the first time since 1994. The past 13 years have been filled with progress and achievements but unfulfilled postseason ambitions.

Last year’s remarkable 15-win season was overshadowed by a disappointing playoff knockout by Saint Joseph’s. The Owls took out the Hawks 4-2 on Oct. 27 to claim their first-ever A-10 regular season crown. On Nov. 2, that same swarm of Hawks delivered the Owls a crushing 3-2 defeat in the A-10 semifinals.

The Owls’ high-water mark was reached shortly before the postseason, when they were ranked No. 13 in the nation according to an NCAA ratings percentage index. Much of that national attention was a product of then-senior midfielder Alli Lokey.

The all-American dominated her competitors, netting 18 goals and 10 assists. It seemed like every clutch goal passed through Lokey’s stick. This time around the fire power will stem from a core group of capable torchbearers.

The heir apparent so far looks to be junior forward Charise Young, who has exploited the opposition for five goals in four games. It was a start that landed her A-10 Player of the Week honors.

Rounding out a standout trio of junior forwards are Mandi Ruth and Dannah Brehm. Through four games Ruth and Brehm have combined for six goals and four assists. Certainly the offense hasn’t missed a beat.

Brehm stormed onto the scene last year with a hat trick in the Owls 4-2 win against the Hawks. Ruth was fourth on the team last year in goals with four.

The defense is anchored by senior goalkeeper Erin Hanshue, who has been a fixture for the Owls between the pipes throughout the last three years. In 2007 she posted an .805 save percentage, good enough for third in the nation among goalkeepers.

Guarding Hanshue is formidable senior defender Mary Catherine Kinneman. The co-captain is working to influence a maturing assembly of fellow defenders. After posting two consecutive shutouts to start the season, the defense is doing its part.

Janney has been efficient in finding replacement parts on offense and defense. The team has been replenished with talent over the last several years, in part due to a strong area recruiting base and incoming transfers. A growing reputation for winning has also been a factor. This season, the team lured Hanshue’s sophomore sister, Kimmi, to reinforce the midfield. She is a transfer from West Chester.

This added depth will be necessary when the Owls take on some of the country’s finest teams, including Delaware at home and road games against Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State.

Your first chance to take a look at the Owls comes on Friday, Sept. 19, against Delaware. Where? At Geasey Field at 15th and Norris streets.

Take a walk over. You can’t beat the admission price — $0. Last year, the Owls went 9-1 on the home turf, so chances are high that you’ll see a victory.

Anthony Stipa can be reached at anthony.stipa@temple.edu.

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