The Owls stepped on Howarth Field for the first time during the regular season at 3 p.m. on Wednesday. Six minutes later, “T for Temple U” echoed through the speakers at the Temple Sports Complex when sophomore midfielder Amber Lambeth scored the Owls’ first goal in the history of the field.
Two hours and 10 minutes later, the fight song blared through the speakers again when the team won its first game on the new field. The Owls scored five goals in the final four minutes, 36 seconds to defeat Monmouth University 18-16 and improve to 2-0 on the season. They are now 2-1 after Saturday’s loss to a ranked Princeton University team.
“What a thrilling way to start,” coach Bonnie Rosen said. “To finally have our first game here and be able to walk away with a win is a wonderful way to celebrate this new facility, and I think it has a wonderful feel to it.”
After playing on Geasey Field for 41 years, the lacrosse team is the last Division I program to make the move to the Temple Sports Complex. The field hockey and soccer teams played at the facility in the fall.
Players and fans said the new field — named after Cherifa Howarth, who played field hockey for the Owls from 1994-97, and her husband Greg — provides a better game day experience. New turf, more room for fans and a video scoreboard are some of the enhancements from Geasey.
After Lambeth scored her first of four goals on Wednesday, the scoreboard lit up and played a video to celebrate the score.
“It was a really cool feeling,” Lambeth said. “I like that we did the videos instead of just a picture, I think that was cool.”
Bob Didio, Lambeth’s uncle, has attended games at both Geasey and Howarth fields. While he misses being closer to the action at Geasey Field, he thinks Howarth provides a better overall experience.
“This field is fantastic,” he said. “It gets everyone more into it.”
When the clock was winding down against Monmouth, a pre-recorded video of senior defender Rachel Barile came on the scoreboard and encouraged fans to cheer. The crowd of 364 fans started cheering and stomping their feet on the bleachers.
“The ‘make some noise’ stuff we had never seen, so it was kind of distracting,” senior attacker Carly Demato said. “But it was fun.”
Knowing that some of the new features could be a distraction, Rosen made sure her team was as prepared as they could be before the game by having her players preview the videos. She said the Owls “played like a pretty composed group” on Wednesday.
In addition to offering a better game-day experience, Howarth Field also provides a better playing surface. The field is made of AstroTurf 12, the same as Geasey Field, but it’s softer because it’s newer.
“It’s so much better here,” Lambeth said. “Falling doesn’t hurt as much.”
For Kristina Gensler, mother of junior attacker Kira Gensler, the best part about the new complex is the attention the sport is getting.
“It’s wonderful,” Kristina Gensler said. “It seems like the sport is being taken a lot more serious, it feels like we are at an actual place watching an actual game.”
Jen Hershey, mother of redshirt-freshman goalkeeper Kelsea Hershey, agreed with Gensler.
“The girls sports kind of get pushed by the way,” Jen Hershey said. “But it seems like hopefully they are taking it a little more serious.”
After leaving the Ambler Sports Complex, the men’s and women’s soccer teams experienced increased attendance since the opening of the new complex in Fall 2016. Rosen hopes that trend will continue for her team and that the field will garner more community support.
“My hope for our fans is that it becomes a place that they really enjoy to come watch games,” Rosen said. “I would love to get the local community to come out and support us and watch our games and enjoy the sport of lacrosse. It’s a wonderful facility to play in and it’s great exposure for our school.”
Tessa Sayers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.