When the Owls’ walked off Geasey Field after their game against Villanova on senior day last year, the team knew it would not be playing in the Big East Conference Tournament.
The Wildcats defeated the Owls for the first time in nine games, eliminating Temple from postseason contention.
As time expired on Wednesday’s matchup, the roles were reversed, with Villanova being eliminated from postseason contention in a 10-7 win for the Owls (10-5, 2-3 Big East) in the Wildcats’ final home game of the season.
“It was a big game,” senior attacker Brenda McDermott said. “It’s a big game every year, especially the city rivalry aspect of it. So it’s good and it feels awesome to beat them and I wish we could have beat them by a little more. But a win is a win, so it’s definitely a good feeling, especially a conference win too.”
McDermott got the Owls off to an early start, scoring 56 seconds into the game. She scored the third goal of the game and assisted on senior attacker Rachel Schwaab’s goal with five minutes, four seconds remaining in the half to help Temple take a 4-0 lead.
The Owls held Villanova scoreless until Wildcats’ junior attacker Carolyn Dottino-Buenahora scored with 1:02 left in the half.
Following the goal, the Wildcats won the draw control, but senior defender Kari Longstaff caused a turnover, allowing the Owls to get an offensive opportunity with less than a minute left in the half.
McDermott capitalized on a free position shot to complete the first half hat-trick and gave the Owls a 5-1 halftime lead.
After a Villanova goal nearly five minutes into the second half, the Owls scored three goals in 1:58 to take an 8-2 lead. The Wildcats took a timeout after senior midfielder Megan Tiernan, who scored the first and third goal in the run, gave Temple a six-goal lead.
Villanova’s leading scorer, graduate attacker Jackie Froccaro, started a 3-0 run to bring the Wildcats within three goals.
“I think they were just coming up with the ground balls at that point in the game and we did that most of the game,” Schwaab said. “So it was just a little lapse there, but luckily we were able to get back and get the ball.”
Froccaro won the draw control after the third goal, allowing the Wildcats to set up their offense with a chance to cut the deficit to two. Senior defender Summer Jaros caused a turnover and advanced the ball through the midfield, leading to a goal by Schwaab.
“I think it speaks volumes to Summer,” coach Bonnie Rosen said. “That was a huge moment to gain possession of the ball back. She’s in the middle of everything from the draw control to defending their top scorer. To be able to come up with that ball is really gave us an opportunity to finish the game off.”
Villanova made one last push in the final minutes.
Senior attacker Kelsey Denihan scored her second goal of the game with 1:30 left and Froccaro tallied her third goal with 57 seconds left to cut the deficit to two. The Owls’ defense forced a turnover, which led to an insurance goal with four seconds left.
“This was the next step,” Rosen said. “We’re trying to play a better game. We’re getting stronger and I think we played almost a complete 60 minutes today, so that’s much better than what we did the other day. We’ll just keep working. That’s all we’re doing working and getting ready for Saturday against Cincinnati, who is a scrappy team and is going to come out with nothing to lose against us.”
Senior attacker Megan Pinkerton did not play after sustaining an ankle injury in practice. The Lancaster, Pennsylvania native has played in 13-of-15 games for the Owls, making 12 starts and scoring 13 goals. She is day-to-day, Rosen said.
Evan Easterling can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Evan_Easterling.