It came down to the very end, but the Owls fell just short.
In a do-or-die situation Friday night at Rutgers, the Owls needed a win to clinch the final seed in the Big East Tournament. But they lost 11-10.
Temple had a 10-9 lead with seven minutes, 10 seconds left, thanks to a goal from sophomore attacker Rachel Schwaab. But sophomore attacker Kim Kolodny came up with the tying goal for Rutgers with 6:15 left, and then the game winner with 2:39 remaining.
Rutgers was able to run out the clock from there, despite the Owls doing everything they could to get one more possession.
The horn sounded, and while the Scarlet Knights ran out on to the field to celebrate, the Owls were left disappointed, in tears, hugging one another. A season, that has had its fair share of ups and downs, was over.
It was a tough loss to take.
“I’m really proud,” coach Bonnie Rosen said. “I’m really proud of this team. We were ready to play today. This was just a really hard-fought game and it was a tough way to finish the season because I feel like there is so much more that we have in us, but I’m really proud of the effort today.”
Through the first seven games, Temple went 2-5. But after overcoming a six-goal deficit in a comeback win against Hofstra on March 19, they went on a 4-3 run over the next seven games, which included conference wins against Villanova, Cincinnati and Marquette.
Although Temple lost to the higher seeds in the conference in Connecticut, Louisville and Georgetown, the Owls, with a 3-3 conference record, had their destiny in their own hands. Had they won, they would have been in, regardless of what Villanova, who is also in the hunt for the last spot in the tournament, did against Connecticut on Saturday afternoon.
Before Friday night’s game, redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Jaqi Kakalecik said that she would make every save she possibly could and do everything in her power to keep the seniors’ season going for at least a little bit longer.
That showed up in her play, as she was extremely aggressive in goal. Kakalecik made seven saves, which included several stops on golden scoring opportunities for the Scarlet Knights.
Temple wouldn’t gain its first lead of the game until the second half. The Owls trailed Rutgers 6-5 at the end of the first, despite two goals from sophomore midfielder Morgan Glassford and one each from sophomore midfielders Nicole and Megan Tiernan and senior attacker Jaymie Tabor.
Rutgers’ junior midfielder Jenny Vlahos opened up the scoring in the second half to give Rutgers a 7-5 lead, then the Owls took over with a run of three unanswered goals from Nicole Tiernan, Glassford and Tabor to put Temple up 8-7.
The Scarlet Knights were able to tie up the score twice thereafter with goals from Vlahos and redshirt junior midfielder Lauren Sbrilli, who had her fourth of the game by that point. But Temple was able to answer both times with Glassford’s fourth goal of the night and then Schwaab’s goal with just over seven minutes left to play.
It wasn’t until Kolodny’s back-to-back goals when Rutgers took the lead back.
As tough as the loss was, the Owls still did their usual post-game routine, ending with a jog to the sideline opposite of the bench and back. Like any other time, the families and friends of the players cheered them on as they made their way back towards the bench, just as loud and proud as ever.
It’s the end of the line for seniors Tabor, Lea Britton, Kelly Syphard and graduate Nina Falcone. But that leaves the rest of the roster to return, which has 13 much more experienced sophomores, eight freshmen and four juniors remaining.
“This is one that hurts, Rosen said. “But it will be a builder for our program for years to come.”
Nick Tricome can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @itssnick215.