Nicole Tiernan is living up to her billing as a member of the 2015 All-Big East Conference preseason team.
The junior midfielder’s career-high five goals, including three of Temple’s last four scores to close out regulation, against Wagner College in Wednesday’s 10-9 comeback win marked her third straight game with more than three tallies.
Along with draw controls and the amount of Temple possessions in the second half, ninth-year head coach Bonnie Rosen mentioned Tiernan as a key to the comeback.
“Certainly, Nicole Tiernan made herself a force to be reckoned with,” Rosen said. “She was going to take the ball hard to goal and carry people to goal, and finish her shot. I think her play helped lead the confidence for the team and opened up a lot of other opportunities.”
Tiernan, who also added four draw controls and three caused turnovers, talked about how she wants to be the player the team can lean on in crunch time situations.
“I am willing to do what the team needs to happen,” Tiernan said. “If something needs to be done or if someone needs to score I have no problem stepping up to do that.”
Temple found the back of the net first on a free-position goal from Tiernan early in the game, but Wagner responded and took the lead on a 4-0 run.
With 20 minutes, 37 seconds left in the first half, freshman attacker Nicole Barretta scored her eighth goal of the season, and 10 minutes later senior attacker Macie Hauck added another score to make it 5-3. Shortly after, Tiernan scored her second goal of the game, but Wagner closed the half with three unanswered goals to put Temple in a four-goal deficit at halftime.
The second half was a different story as Temple secured seven draw controls to only one for Wagner, limiting the Seahawks to just four shots on goal.
“The draw controls were a huge part [of the comeback] and that was the story of the game in general,” Rosen said. “In the second half, we ended up getting possession of those balls and continuing forward with them instead of turning them over.”
Junior attacker Kathryn Skahan started the scoring off for the Owls less than two minutes into the second half, and eight minutes later sophomore attacker Rachel Barile added another goal to cut the deficit to two.
After Wagner’s Gretchen Fay scored her third goal of the game to make the score 9-6 with 13 1/2 minutes left in regulation, Temple went on a 4-0run, including Tiernan’s third, fourth, and fifth goals of the game. Barile’s second goal of the game was the deciding factor with just under three minutes left in regulation.
Wagner marked the second team in a row that the Owls have held scoreless in the second half.
“We really worked on fundamentals and holding our body positions [in the second half] because we were getting a lot of foul calls that were causing goals [in the first half],” junior captain defender Kara Stroup said. “So we just went back and played fundamental defense, came out hard and stopped doing the little things that were allowing them to score.”
Temple, now 5-1 on the year, will travel to New Rochelle to face Iona at 3 p.m. on Friday.
Matt Cockayne can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @mattcockayne55.