Last week was not a very good one for coach Kim Ciarrocca and her Owls.
After winning four of their first five games, the Owls lost three consecutive games in five days.
But that’s not even the bad news.
Senior midfielder Liz Frengs had her season cut short last Saturday, when she severely injured her knee in the opening minutes of the Owls 16-6 loss to 5th-ranked Virginia.
The following game that Sunday against No. 13 Old Dominion, the Owls appeared listless and never got into any flow as they dropped an 11-5 decision.
The loss of Frengs is a blow to a team that was picked to repeat as Atlantic 10 Conference champs.
Midfielder Jessica Yemm, defender Alli Demas, midfielder Deanna Radcliffe and goalkeeper Sheena Oommen are now the only seniors on the team, making Frengs’ absence even more significant.
“We’ve lost one of our major kids – a senior captain out – blew out her knee, and I think we’re a little nervous now,” Ciarrocca said.
Frengs has been a mainstay in the lineup for four years, starting 62 of 63 games. She is currently third on the team in points, including 11 goals.
The Owls’ first game without her against Old Dominion was a stagnant performance as others will be expected to pick up some of the scoring slack.
“We’re not aggressive enough right now,” Ciarrocca said.
“We’re playing some top teams.”
The Owls have been outscored, 40-19, during the skid with A-10 Conference play beginning this Friday at home against Massachusetts.
Temple currently has a 12-game winning streak in the A-10 regular season.
While the Owls now have to get acclimated without Frengs on the field, the chances of bringing home a third consecutive A-10 crown seem in peril.
With the graduation of core players like Noelle Cebron, Shelly Wosczyna, and Robin Keevan, coupled with nine freshman on this year’s squad, the Owls will need to grow up quickly.
Whether or not these travails erode the Owls’ confidence depends how resilient
they are, says Ciarrocca.
“It might,” she said.
“It depends on how we bounce back. No, I’m not worried about it, I know we have the athletes and I know we can be OK.”
Radcliffe and junior midfielder Tiffany Pulaski lead the team in scoring with 22 points apiece.
Radcliffe is tops on the team with 18 goals, while Pulaski has dished out six assists.
Demas anchors the defensive unit with a team-high 16 ground balls and Oommen is an experienced goalkeeper who has started in 46 straight games.
Her consistency is pivotal, as she led the A-10 in goalkeeping last year.
Freshman attacker Patti Glavin has been a pleasant addition so far.
Starting every game, Glavin has put together stellar numbers with 12 goals, five assists, and 15 groundballs.
She will be asked to do more now with Frengs out for the remainder of the season.
But don’t expect the Owls to go down easy.
The veterans are used to playing an onerous non-conference schedule, and are also accustomed to playing and winning in the NCAA Tournament.
How the Owls react to the early season difficulties will be interesting as the season progresses.
Jason Haslam can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.