Temple defeated George Washington, 13-10, but lost to Richmond, 13-9.
With two games against conference foes at Geasey Field, the lacrosse team had a chance to move up in the standings and to be closer to a berth in the Atlantic Ten Conference tournament. The Owls also had a chance to beat the team responsible for sending them home early last season.
“We’re taking it one game at a time,” coach Bonnie Rosen said. “We know it’s going to be a tough fight, and we know we have to battle.”
The Owls defeated the George Washington Colonials, 13-10, early in the week but failed to separate themselves in the crowded conference standings when they fell to the Richmond Spiders, 9-13, on Sunday. Despite losing eight out of its first nine games, the Cherry and White came into the week winning two out of its last three and were back in the hunt for a conference tournament berth.
The Owls’ success and hot streak continued against the Colonials on Friday, despite the miserable weather. Junior midfielder Stephanie Markunas and sophomore midfielder Charlotte Swavola each scored hat tricks and led the Owls back from a first half, three-goal deficit in a consistent downpour and chilly temperature. Including her two assists, Markunas finished the day with five points.
Junior midfielders Missy Schweitzer and Jackie Mercer each added two goals. Lea Britton and Jaymie Tabor, freshmen midfielder and attacker, respectively, and senior attacker Ann Stouffer rounded out the scoring with one apiece. George Washington took a 7-4 lead 25 minutes into the first half, but Temple rallied and tied, 8-8, to finish the half.
The second half was more defense-oriented, but the Owls went on a 3-0 run late in the half and junior goalkeeper Tess Bishop made several key saves late to preserve the lead and the victory.
“Our confidence is growing,” Rosen said. “Our shooting has been getting better and each player is stepping up and improving.”
On Sunday, the Spiders came in looking to improve on their four-game win streak and keep pace with the Massachusetts Minutemen, who are at the top of the A-10. The Owls were quite familiar with this Richmond team, as it was the one who knocked them out of the conference tournament last year, sending the Owls home early. Rosen downplayed any ideas of revenge or extra motivation for this game.
“It’s always a great rivalry, but we weren’t focused on anything but making this game the next step in our progression,” Rosen said.
The Spiders quickly hampered any ideas of redemption, scoring two goals in the first 60 seconds of play. For the next 10 minutes, the squads traded goals leaving the score at 4-3 until Richmond broke it open with a strong defense and solid ball possession.
The score was stretched to 8-3 in favor of the visitors from Virginia with 12 minutes remaining. Temple called a timeout, trying to gain some momentum to take into the half, but the Spiders defense made several big stops and held the Owls scoreless over the last 18:55.
“It was disappointing because we didn’t come out and play hard,” Rosen said. “Their goalkeeper played nicely, but we didn’t place shots where we wanted to play them.”
Both defenses made adjustments and were better in the second half, but this time, it was the home team that was more aggressive. The Owls went on a spirited 4-1 run to bring the lead down to 11-7 with 13:35 remaining as the Spiders seemed to be coasting and letting off the pedal. Bishop was able to keep Richmond at bay with several big stops but the offensive effort was too little, too late, as Richmond held Temple off for the 13-9 win.
“We were more aggressive in the second half when we were down, but it was disappointing because we knew exactly what they were going to do, and they still did it,” Rosen said.
Tabor scored three goals, but the leading scorer was Richmond senior attacker Julianne Nicola. The Maryland-native recorded three goals and three assists for six total points. With the win, Richmond improved to 7-7 overall and 4-0 in conference play, tying the team with Massachusetts for first place.
After splitting the two home games, Temple’s record moved to 4-9 overall and 2-2 in conference play. Temple is currently in a three-way tie for third place as several teams battle for a conference tournament bid, which is given to the Top 4 teams. Two of the three remaining games are on the road with the lone remaining home game coming on Sunday against St. Bonaventure.
“Duquesne will be tough and all three games are really important,” Rosen said. “But once you get in the tournament, anybody can win it.”
Brandon Stoneburg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.