Temple’s lacrosse team is used to playing nationally ranked opposition. They’ve already gone to battle with three top 20 teams. But on Wednesday, they probably played their toughest opponent all season in the Princeton Tigers.
The newly 20th ranked Owls were riding a three-game winning streak as they got a taste of what a top-ranked team is made of. In the process they lost 16-8 to the Tigers and their bevy of sharp-shooters.
However, they remained optimistic and resilient as they approach the crux of conference play.
“We have to play our game,” said senior Noelle Cebron, who had two goals and two assists. She was recently named Atlantic 10 co-Player of the Week for a second straight time.
“[Princeton] proved why they were number one, but overall we played well against them. I just think we need to make a few adjustments, but nothing radical,” Cebron said.
“We’re not going to let this loss damage our focus for conference play,” Temple coach Kim Ciarrocca said.
“If you look at the teams we play in our conference, none of them play any top ten teams. Just like the John Chaney philosophy, I think that playing stronger teams is going to make us better,” she said.
Similar to last season, the Owls were undefeated in A-10 play, but couldn’t match the speed and finesse of Princeton, who have now beat them four years in a row.
The opening minutes of the match saw Temple (6-4,2-0) quickly fall behind 4-0, as the Tigers relentless pursuit resulted in keeping the ball deep in Owl territory and allowing very few Temple scoring opportunities. By the end of the first half Princeton had run roughshod over junior goalkeeper Sheena Oommen with an 8-1 edge.
“Instead of stepping up and stopping the ball, our defense would take a couple steps backwards … and we didn’t double up on the ball like we should have early on,” Ciarrocca said.
“I think we came out a little too relaxed,” said junior midfielder Patience Synnestvedt, who was key in Temple’s comeback with a hat trick and two assists.
“We quickly found out that they were fast and there is a reason why they are number one, and that we were going to have to hustle to back in it,” Synnestvedt said.
The second half would see a flurry of runs by both teams, and Cebron started things with a beautiful spin move shot that found the back of the net. Two more goals would follow by Synnestevdt and senior midfielder Jen Jefferson. Meanwhile, Oommen and the defense stifled Princeton, holding them scoreless for over 14 minutes, including the final six minutes from the first half.
Princeton (10-1, 3-0) countered with six consecutive goals, taking a commanding 14-4 lead, led by senior attacker Lauren Simone, who notched five goals and three assists.
Temple struck again with four unanswered goals causing Princeton anxiety, with a tenuous 14-8 lead and 10 minutes remaining. The Tigers stave off the Temple rally, escaping North Broad Street with a win.
“We had to pick our heads up, and stop worrying about who we were playing and just go out there and play Temple lacrosse,” said Cebron on the second half rally.
On where the team needs to go Ciarrocca said, “We know we’re not a top five team, but we need to improve on our midfield pressure of the ball and attack with more confidence.”
Temple’s next two games will be against inner-city rivals LaSalle and St. Joseph’s where they will put their seven-game conference winning-streak on the line.
Jason Haslam can be reached at Jasonhaslam@yahoo.com