There wasn’t anyone or anything that could slow Princeton’s lacrosse team.
Temple’s defenders didn’t stand a chance. Neither did the gusting winds.
The No. 1 Tigers play a brand of lacrosse equivalent to a run-and-gun basketball team. Their goals are fueled by their blazing speed.
And yesterday in the Owls’ final non-conference game, Princeton’s goals came by the bunch. The fast-break Tigers had discarded Temple by halftime, after they were ahead by a dozen, and cruised to a 19-6 win at Geasey Field.
Princeton stayed at a perfect 10-0 overall, 2-0 Ivy League, and extended its win-streak to 20. The streak dates back to last season’s loss to Yale on April 13. The Tigers have won 25 of 26 games since their 1-3 start last season. They have remained the top team in the country for the past five weeks and are currently seeking a third-straight national title.
They were intimidating.
“It’s really hard to kind of not go in there scared, they’re the national champions,” Temple senior midfielder Tiffany Pulaski said. “But we can’t fear them, we just have to respect them.”
Temple dropped to 3-6 overall, 1-1 Atlantic Ten after crushing Saint Joseph’s, 17-5, last weekend. That was career-win No. 150 for Temple coach Kim Ciarrocca, and she didn’t even know it.
It’s a sign that Ciarrocca has kept her mind in overdrive and her hands full with a team that has seven freshmen and several key early-season injuries.
“I guess I was just hoping we would show a little more than we did,” Ciarrocca said. “You just hope your kids can kind of stay with them.”
But that never happened. The Tigers’ first goal came 1 minute, 8 seconds into the game. They continued to find the back of the net for the rest of the half and headed into intermission ahead, 13-1. Princeton’s first seven goals came within the opening eight minutes.
Ciarrocca was frustrated. The Owls seemed apprehensive on both ends of the field, but there wasn’t much anyone could do about it.
“My evaluation would be to see heart to heart, how much heart your kids have,” Ciarrocca said. “Do they give up? And I think our kids gave up this game. I think they still hustled, they went both ways.”
Temple played the Tigers evenly in the second half and nearly matched each of Princeton’s goals. Sophomore Corey Leader led the Owls with a pair of goals and an assist. Pulaski also netted two goals.
Princeton was led by Lindsey Bile’s four goals, but the Tigers don’t boast any superstars.
“They just play with a lot of confidence,” Leader said. “They’re a fast team. I just think we need more experience. A lot of places need to be filled. Princeton – you really have to be a junior to play; it’s really competitive.”
The Owls are heavily lacking in the experience department. Temple lost five seniors from last year’s squad, and have looked shaky in its bid for a fourth straight A-10 title. The Owls haven’t had a losing season since 1999.
Pulaski, Temple’s leading scorer with 19 goals and 23 points, feels the team will get over the .500 mark by the end of the season. It’s just that times have been tough as of late. She knew there would be bumps in the road since day one of this season.
“Nothing’s there,” she said. “We have to start from scratch. It’s like we have no foundation.”
Freshman Johna Capaldo is looking toward the future.
“We’re young, but it’s exciting,” Capaldo said. “There’s so much we have to learn in a small amount of time.”
For now, the team will continue to take its lumps. A-10 play will resume tomorrow against St. Bonaventure, but the Owls already have a glitch on their A-10 record after an early season loss to Duquesne. It was Temple’s first conference loss since it joined the A-10 in 1983.
While the Owls hope to win the rest of their games, the season hasn’t exactly been smooth.
“It’s hard,” Ciarrocca said. “And it’s new for us. We’re not used to losing.”
Chris Silva can be reached at email@example.com.