Before the field hockey team even stepped foot on the field this year, coaches and players alike had their eyes on a few teams that they needed to settle a score with.
Those teams were Richmond and Massachusetts
– two perennial Atlantic Ten Conference
powerhouses that had combined to end the seasons and careers of the Owls over the last three years. With the Owls (6-3) nearing the start of their A-10 schedule, those two opponents loom large, but a tough non-conference schedule has been one of the most beneficial factors to the team’s strong play and rapid attainment of experience, second-year coach Amanda Janney said.
“It really gets us ready,” Janney said of the Owls’ non-conference games. “We’ve been through some battles so far and the girls are well tested.”
Each of the Owls’ three losses came against nationally ranked opponents. The team lost hard-fought games to No. 1 Maryland and No. 12 American at the Terrapin Classic earlier this month. It also suffered a 2-1 double-overtime loss to No.16 Michigan State Sept. 3.The Owls have come up with clutch home wins against Lehigh, Rider and Drexel, putting them on the fast lane to success. Now, opponents such as the Spiders and Minutewomen don’t seem as big, Janney said.
“Every game we’re playing better,” Janney
said. “Other teams lost a lot of seniors so we’re pretty optimistic that were going to match up even better with them this season.”
Senior defender Megan Hannahoe believes
that these early non-conference challenges
are already paying dividends to the team.
“I think we will dominate in the A-10 and our only huge competition will be Richmond,” Hannahoe said.
Janney also believes that the quest for the A-10 title will be contested by the usual suspects.
“We know Richmond is always a very difficult opponent,” she said.
“UMass is always really strong; [Saint. Joeseph’s] is having a great season as well,” she continued.
“It’s always a tough battle to get into the A-10 tournament.”This season, however, the Owls are competing with a revamped squad featuring many newcomers.
Upstart freshman Mandi Ruth, the A-10 rookie of the week, leads the Owls with four goals. She and her twin sister, Kasey, have caused trouble for opposing teams, combining for 13 points. Another newcomer, freshman forward Charise Young, has supplied her own firepower, netting three goals and setting up three more. Junior midfielder Alli Lokey, the co-A-10 player of the week, has been the team’s steadiest player, with three goals and three assists.
Defensively, juniors Leanne Vogelsong and Nadia Clendening have helped standout sophomore goalkeeper Erin Hanshue post a 1.17 goals against average to go along with her four shutouts. Though the season has gone as planned and team confidence is high, Hannahoe said, the Owls cannot afford to get ahead of themselves.
“I think we just need to keep building upon our basic skills, and the rest will come,” Hannahoe said.With that said, it’s difficult to argue with the statistics the Owls have put up thus far. The team has outshot its opponents 105-77, while topping them in goals, 19-11.
Temple has also managed to race out to quick leads in most of its contests, outscoring opponents, 12-4, in the combined first halves of their games this season.With only four teams advancing to the A-10 tournament come Nov. 3, it’s not hard to see that there is only room for the best.
“We are just taking it one moment at a time,” Hannahoe said.
Anthony Stipa can be reached at email@example.com.