Merton’s three points lift Owls into playoff spot

Freshman midfielder Maddie Merton’s two goals helped Temple defeated Quinnipiac University 3-2 on Friday at Howarth Field to claim fourth place in the Big East Conference.

Freshman midfielder Maddie Merton was all over the field on Friday.

The Auckland, New Zealand native was involved in all three goals, tallying two goals and an assist for the Owls in their 3-2 win against Quinnipiac University at Howarth Field.

The team’s second-leading scorer added her fifth and sixth goals of the season Friday to help Temple (6-10, 3-3 Big East Conference) move into fourth place in the conference standings.

“Maddie leads by example,” senior midfielder Paige Gross said. “We look at [the freshmen] as really great players who produce great stats and wins for the team.”

In the first half, Merton hit a rebounded ball out of the air and into the cage to tie the game at one 22 minutes, 52 seconds into play.

A few minutes later, Merton inserted the ball to redshirt-junior forward Sarah Keer on a penalty corner. Keer slammed the ball into the back of the cage to score the game-winning goal and put Temple up 2-1. Keer assisted Merton’s goal in the 54th minute that gave the Owls a two-goal cushion.

With a conference matchup against Liberty University on Oct. 28, the third place team in the Big East, the Owls to “keep their heads down humble,” Keer said.

Coach Marybeth Freeman said she was happy with the improvements shown through this week’s practices. She and her coaching staff will look at video and decide what the team should work for next week’s road game.

Temple is fourth in the conference, which would give the team the last spot in the conference tournament. Beating Liberty would give the Owls the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Flames.

“We’re going to celebrate it today, but tomorrow we’re just going to go back to the drawing board and really focus,” Gross said.

The Bobcats scored an early goal, but Temple scored twice in the last 15 minutes of the first half to take the lead. For several minutes during the beginning of the second half, the Owls essentially played keepaway.

Freeman would have been content to play the rest of the game like that.

“If they can’t touch it, they can’t score it,” Freeman said. “If we are outletting, in that fall away press, let them make the move. What they want is for us to pass and for us to make mistakes.”

Junior forward Hattie Kuhns joined the backfield passing unit and was also involved in offensive rushes. She was involved in the rush that drew the corner for Temple’s third goal.

“She does a ton of running for us in the midfield because she’s so valuable in the attack and defense,” Freeman said. “Hattie does know the game, she does know that we need to get underneath the ball, and she also knows that she needed to join when we had the ball on attack.”

Senior forward Katie Foran was injured with 21 minutes remaining in the first half. A drive by a Quinnipiac defender came up and hit the left side of her face. Foran left the game and was transported to the hospital.

Freeman said Foran asked the score on the way to the emergency room.

“We needed to do this one for her, because we knew she would be out on the field doing the same for us,” Gross said.

Jay Neemeyer can be reached at or on Twitter @j_neemeyer.

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