When Erin Lafferty steps up to take a penalty kick, the senior defender knows she must be patient.
Lafferty has been coach Seamus O’Connor’s go-to option for penalty kicks since her sophomore season, but her poise during a penalty kick is not a result of her on-field experience alone.
Lafferty, a speech pathology major in the College of Public Health, is studying to become a speech therapist and plans to attend two years of graduate school before entering the professional field of helping children or adults with speech related disorders.
“With everything, you need patience,” Lafferty said. “You just need to keep going and never give up, and even when you have a patient and they’re struggling, you can’t give up on them and you have to keep going.”
Lafferty has scored on seven of eight penalty kicks in her career and has scored on all four she has taken in 2015.
The eighth penalty kick of her career came Thursday at Ambler Sports Complex as the Owls (12-6-1, 4-4-1 American Athletic Conference) were tied 2-2 with Southern Methodist in a conference match with playoff implications.
Both owning conference records of 2-4-1 entering Thursday’s game, the winner was poised to take possession of the tiebreaker and move a step closer to being one of the eight teams in the 10-team conference to make the 2015 American tournament in Dallas, Texas.
Three minutes after tying the game on her third penalty-kick goal of the season, Lafferty stepped up for another penalty kick when Southern Methodist freshman goalkeeper Catie Brown received a red card for tripping senior midfielder Kelly Farrell in the box with 29 seconds to play.
Visibly upset with the call, Mustangs junior defender Taylor Jackson voiced her opinion with the referee and then attempted to move the ball as Lafferty was setting up to take her shot.
“They just try to get in your head at that point because they’re pissed about the call,” Lafferty said. “So I thought I’d just walk away, let the referee deal with it and not get involved with it or have anything go against us at that point.”
About a minute after Jackson received a yellow card for her theatrics, Lafferty calmly delivered the game-winning goal in the 90th minute to give Temple back-to-back 11-win seasons for the first time in program history.
Lafferty’s two-penalty-kick performance against the Mustangs marked her third multi-goal game of the season.
“That’s so much pressure when it’s you and you alone, and I don’t understand how she does it,” O’Connor said. “You’ve got to have a special personality for that.
“Coach Keith [Cappo] was joking with her that 90 percent of the time we don’t think she has a heart because she just plays so cool all the time,” O’Connor added.
Lafferty, who has played at least 90 minutes in all but one game this season, broke the program record for games played at 78 with her appearance in Sunday’s 2-1 conference win against Houston at Ambler Soccer Field.
“It just tells you what kind of impact she’s had on the program,” O’Connor said. “She’s just been ‘Ms. Consistent’ since she got here.”