Shannon Senour had never heard someone scream so loud in her life.
In the 23rd minute of Temple’s (5-1) road 2-1 loss against city-rival the University of Pennsylvania , senior goalkeeper Shauni Kerkhoff made an aggressive play as the Owls were in danger of going down by two goals for the first time this season.
The ball was crossed into the box from the left corner, leaving Kerkhoff on a crash course with Penn’s Allie Trzaska. Senour, a senior midfielder, attempted to get in between Kerkhoff and Trzaska, but Kerkhoff called off her teammate at the last second.
Trzaska’s attempt found the back of the net, but her leg collided with Kerkhoff’s in the process.
Senior defender Erin Lafferty held Kerhoff’s trembling hand as she laid on the ground, telling her teammate to squeeze as hard as she possibly could to fight the pain.
“To hear her scream like that, I knew instantly that it had to be something serious,” Senour said. “She was on the ground screaming like bloody murder, cursing, and Shauni never curses. She’s probably the nicest, hardest working person on our team.
Kerkhoff was placed on a stretcher and helped off the field by graduate athletic trainer Erika Johnson. She was then taken to a nearby hospital for further evaluation.
Coach Seamus O’Connor did not know the extent of Kerkhoff’s injury after the game.
“I know it was lower leg, but I don’t know whether it was knee or leg,” O’Connor said. “I don’t know what part it was. They just hit each other. It was just leg on leg, so we’ll see. We’ll have to go back and find out now.”
O’Connor blamed himself for Temple’s 2-1 loss, the team’s first of the season.
He said he was trying to see if the Owls could be an “ultra-attacking team” against a quality opponent like Penn.
The experiment backfired, with Kerkhoff allowing two goals in a game for the first time since the Owls’ 2-1 loss to Southern Methodist in the first round of the American Athletic Conference Tournament last season.
“We experimented with what we thought might work and it just didn’t work,” he said. “We got exposed and we gave up two goals that just typically are not us.
Freshman goalkeeper Jordan Nash came on in relief of Kerkhoff and held Penn scoreless in a career-high 68 minutes of action.
Nash’s efforts, which included one save, afforded Temple numerous opportunities to score, but the team struggled to finish chances in the second half.
The Owls finally broke through in the 72nd minute when sophomore defender Elana Falcone notched her third assist of the season with a cross into the box that found senior midfielder Paige Rachel, who scored her first goal after missing last season with a torn ACL.
“I’ve really seen a difference in her this week,” O’Connor said. “She’s just getting after it and her fitness is getting back, that final little bit of sharpness is coming back, and she was flying today.”
The Owls will look for Nash to be the team’s starting goalkeeper with Kerkhoff’s status up in the air.
“That’s why we recruit like that,” he said. “She’s a starting goalkeeper and she came on and acted like a starting goalie.”
Tom Riefsynder can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Tom_Reifsnyder