The team lost to Rutgers at home, 11-10, but beat Mount St. Mary’s, 9-5, in Maryland.
Thirty minutes. That’s the amount of time a lacrosse team must defend its goal for a half.
For the lacrosse team, the first 29 minutes of a half have been spectacular. The final minute, however, has been a problem.
The Owls have allowed last-minute goals at the end of halves in both contests to open the season – a trend that has already cost them a game.
The team opened the 2011 season in heartbreaking fashion with an 11-10 loss against Rutgers last Wednesday at Geasey Field. Rutgers sophomore midfielder Stephanie Anderson scored her second goal of the contest with 39 seconds left to down the Owls in the opening match for both teams.
The game was tight throughout, as the teams alternated goals en route to eight ties and seven lead changes. The game was tied, 8-8, before the Scarlet Knights scored two goals to stretch their lead to 10-8 with less than six minutes remaining.
Junior midfielder Missy Schweitzer scored her first goal of the season, followed by sophomore midfielder Charlotte Swavola’s fourth goal of the contest that tied the game, 10-10, with a minute and a half remaining. However, Swavola’s late heroics weren’t enough as Rutgers scored a minute later to steal the win.
The game was physical as expected. The teams combined for 35 fouls, and it was a free position goal that gave Rutgers the win in the final minute.
“It’s an opportunity for us to show where we are in our development,” coach Bonnie Rosen said before the game. “Rutgers is typically a physical game.”
This is the third straight season that the Owls have opened the regular season with the Scarlet Knights. Last season, the Owls were on the wrong end of a 13-3 loss at Rutgers.
Junior goalkeeper Tess Bishop recorded seven saves in her first career start. Junior midfielder Kelsey Zenuk opened the season with two goals and two assists.
Temple held a 5-3 lead entering the final minute of the first half, but Rutgers junior attacker Lindsay Watts scored the second of her three goals with 14 seconds left to shorten the gap to 5-4 at halftime.
Rutgers opened the second half with two quick goals before Swavola scored two straight to re-take the lead at 7-6. The teams went back-and-forth trading goals until the 8-8 tie was broken up with less than 10 minutes left.
On Sunday, the Owls traveled to Emmitsburg, Md., to earn their first win of the season as they defeated Mount St. Mary’s, 9-5, in the first ever meeting between the two programs.
Much like the first contest against Rutgers, Temple allowed an early goal to trail at the start of the match, before taking a two-goal lead entering the final minute of the first half.
The defense collapsed again inside the final minute as Mountaineers senior midfielder Nicole Price scored with 50 seconds remaining to cut the lead to 4-3. It was the third time in three halves that the Owls defense allowed a goal in the final minute.
Sophomore midfielder Kellee Pace opened the second half with her second goal of the game on a free position shot. Swavola followed with her lone goal against the Mountaineers to increase the Cherry and White lead, 6-3.
Mount St. Mary’s got one back from Temple before the Owls scored three straight to put an end to any comeback attempt and stretch their lead to 9-4. The Mountaineers tallied a late goal – a recurring dilemma for this team – but the Owls earned their first win of the young season with a 9-5 win.
Sophomore midfielder Stephany Parcell and Pace provided the offense with two goals and an assist a piece. Bishop recorded another seven saves in her first win as a starter.
Temple was picked to finish fourth of eight teams in the Atlantic Ten Conference Preseason Poll. Last year, the team went 4-3 in A-10 play to earn the fourth seed at the conference tournament.
The Owls lost to top-seeded Richmond in a close semifinal, 15-13, to finish fourth. Temple has seven out-of-conference games before beginning A-10 competition on April 1, against Massachusetts.
Next up for the Owls is a home contest against University of California Davis on Friday, March 4, at 1 p.m.
“The biggest challenge we face is putting all the pieces together. Last year, we were in so many tight games but didn’t have the ability to get over the top,” Rosen said. “This year, hopefully that experience and our drive will allow us to take those close games.”
Joe Serpico can be reached at email@example.com.