Winning three consecutive championships is a difficult task in any sport. And if the lacrosse team plans on making it four-straight Atlantic Ten titles, their 2004 campaign is off to a rough start.
With early season injuries taking a toll on a squad laden with underclassmen, the Owls are 1-3 and struggling to find the back of the net.
“We’re having a little trouble scoring goals right now,” coach Kim Ciarrocca said. “Everyone’s a little tentative. No one’s sure what their role is on attack.”
Injuries to sophomore attacker Patty Glavin, the Most Outstanding Player in last year’s A-10 tournament, and senior defender Marie DesMarias have forced Ciarrocca to go with an inexperienced lineup and put as many as seven freshmen on the field at a time.
DesMarias is out with ligament damage in her toes, but is expected back in early April.
The same cannot be said for Glavin, who had season-ending knee surgery in February after tearing ligaments in her left knee during a practice.
“It’s so bad standing on the sideline and watching everybody playing,” Glavin said. “It’s tough, just wondering if I could help them out. Being on the sideline helpless just hurts.”
With injuries piling up, Ciarrocca has looked to senior midfielder Tiffany Pulaski to make plays and provide leadership for her younger teammates. Pulaski, one of only four seniors on the team, leads the Owls with nine goals.
“We look for Tiffany to be our role model,” Ciarrocca said. “She’s being double and triple-teamed every game, so we have to make sure that our freshmen step up a little more.”
Despite Pulaski’s efforts, Temple has lost its last three games. On Saturday, the Owls’ streak of 19 consecutive conference victories came to a crashing end with an 18-5 loss to Duquesne.
“It was something new to us,” Ciarrocca said. “We froze. We really didn’t know what to do.”
On Tuesday, the Owls fell to No. 20 Penn State, 8-5, at Geasey Field.
Pulaski paced the Owls with two goals, while freshmen Casey Cech, Katie Yori and Allison Frengs each scored once. Junior Megan McLouth had a stellar performance in goal, stopping 13 shots.
Cech, Yori and Frengs are among the freshmen Ciarrocca will count on to play major roles as the season progresses.
The Owls have little time to rest, as they are back in action Friday at Old Dominion. That will be the start of a grueling stretch of games against some of the nation’s top talent. In the next two weeks the Owls play at No. 2 Virginia, then host No. 10 North Carolina and top-ranked Princeton.
“If that doesn’t get us ready for the rest of our A-10 games, I don’t think anyone will,” Ciarrocca said. “But they’re battling, and hopefully we get a little better as each game goes.”
Jonathan Campbell can be reached at email@example.com.