Senior midfielders Stephany Parcell and Charlotte Swavola couldn’t help but look at each other with a smile when asked about the lacrosse team’s 2012 exclusion from the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament. Not because it is a fond memory, but because they said it will define the 2013 season.
“We have something to prove,” Parcell and Swavola said simultaneously.
Although the Owls lose eight seniors, including their top two scorers and starting goalkeeper, experienced underclassmen combined with a large recruiting class, have the team excited for redemption following the disappointing end to last season.
“It’s really easy to see it as a fresh new year, with lots of dreams ahead of us,” coach Bonnie Rosen said. “They’ve all gotten better. That’s why we have a very exciting season ahead of us.”
Last year, with a record of 9-8 overall and 3-4 in-conference, Temple had collected its second winning season under the sixth-year coach. However, last season also marked the second time the Owls had missed the A-10 tournament under Rosen.
“We didn’t win games we had to win to get in, last year,” Parcell, last year’s leader in goals, said. “I don’t think that’s going to happen this year.”
After beginning the season with a 6-3 non-conference record, including a 5-0 start, the Owls finished 2012 with a 3-4 record against A-10 opponents. The combination of an overall winning record, but no postseason berth, marked Temple’s 2012 season as a disappointment, players and coaches said.
“Those returning, particularly, our seniors, have a greater sense of urgency of what they want to accomplish and realize it doesn’t just get handed to you,” Rosen said. “You don’t just walk into an A-10 tournament, you have to earn it. And how your season begins, isn’t necessarily how it’ll end.”
“That should have never happened. With the team we had last year, we should’ve made A-10,” Parcell said. “The team we have this year should make A-10”.
Temple returns a number of players with experience. Fifth-year senior Jackie Mercer, seniors Kellee Pace and Megan Chlada, juniors Jaymie Tabor, Lea Britton, Colleen Guinan, and a healthy Kelly Syphard, are among the top returning players for Temple.
“The sophomores and juniors contributed a lot, in their two or three years here, so it isn’t like we are inexperienced,” Swavola, the top returner in assists and ground balls, said.
Also in the group of returners is a trio of goalkeepers competing for the vacancy at starter. Redshirt freshman Jaqi Kakalecik, sophomore Rachel Hall and senior Meghan Clothier look to compete for the starting job.
“Our goalie position is one of our strengths and one of the challenges from a coaching standpoint,” Rosen said. “We have three very good goalkeepers. There is no frontrunner right now.”
During the offseason, Temple acquired 13 freshmen, who are expected to play a big role this season.
“When we signed this class, we were extremely excited,” Rosen said. “They have already exceeded our expectations of what we thought they would be.”
Temple’s 13 additions fill nearly half of its roster with freshmen.
“We’re pretty young, but they’re coming right along,” Parcell said. “They’re definitely going to make an impact.”
“What we’re already better at, from day one, is that we are deeper in our talent, deeper in our numbers, and deeper in our ability,” Rosen said. “We obviously had tremendous scorers last year, but people have been ready to step up into those roles.”
Besides the larger numbers on this year’s roster, the addition of the freshman class and healthy returning players also enhance the 2013 Owls in another way – speed.
“When you talk about speed, we have returners who are healthy and with this freshman class we brought in 13 people who are really talented. I think you’ll notice the speed through the midfield, in particular,” Rosen said.
“The one difference is that we will be faster. That’s just something that is already noticeable,” Swavola said. “That’s an improvement that will be really cool.”
In Rosen’s six seasons coaching at Temple, the Owls have advanced to the A-10 tournament four times, including a 2008 A-10 championship and NCAA tournament berth. Temple has won consistently in recent years, which makes the team confident that the 2012 season was likely a blip, rather than a start of a trend.
“If we prepare hard, and we can stay healthy, and make great gains in our game from the start to end of the season, there will be a great story to be told,” Rosen said.
Brien Edwards can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BErick1123.