O’Connor optimistic after record-breaking season

Despite a first-round loss to SMU in the conference tournament, the Owls will return all but one player from their roster next season.

In conference tournaments, teams sometimes depend on experienced players to step up and lead the team. For the Owls, almost a third of the team was experiencing a collegiate tournament for the first time in the Owls’ 2-1 loss to Southern Methodist at the American Athletic Conference tournament in Orlando, Florida.

Temple and SMU each had five shots on goal Friday night, but after the Owls jumped out to an early 1-0 lead off a Kelly Farrell goal, they were unable to find the net on any shots taken in the second half.

“The ball is not is easy to get in the net. Almost every shot we took just missed by millimeters,” coach Seamus O’Connor said.

Tonight’s loss marked the final Owls appearance for only one player, senior defender Alyssa Kirk.

“We will miss Alyssa next year, but we’re putting together a nice group of experienced players,” O’Connor said. “The girls who are juniors now have played lots of minutes ever since they came in as freshmen. Things are really coming together.

A prime example of the Owls’ youth movement is Gabriella McKeown, a freshman forward. McKeown was one of the most active Owls on offense against SMU, notching three shots and three shots on goal.

“I was very impressed by [the team’s performance],” O’Connor said. “We just need to keep doing what we need to do in the offseason, and we will come back looking good next season. It was a very good game. I have no regrets.”

The Owls finished their season at 11-8-1, tying the record for best winning record in program history. There were other bright spots during this season, including a seven-game winning streak to open the season. The 7-0 start is also the best in program history.

“Everyone who is successful in life learns from failure,” O’Connor said. “It was a great game for them to be involved in, and we will definitely use this as motivation going forward.”

Ashlyn Miller can be reached at ashlyn.miller@temple.edu or on Twitter @AshlynMiller8.

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