The lacrosse team really has a way of keeping its opponents guessing.
Early-season victories over top-notch opponents like then-No. 2 Penn State bolstered the Owls’ Division I stock, or so it seemed. After being stomped by No. 4 Virginia nearly two weeks ago, the Owls (6-5, 2-1) responded with a strong win at Lafayette.
Then came Friday’s game against Richmond. Facing the sub-.500 Spiders, the No. 17 Owls expected to win, but were never able to build momentum, eventually losing, 8-6. The Atlantic Ten Conference loss was the Owls’ first of the season and third in Temple’s six-year history in the A-10.
From the beginning, the Owls were stuck playing catch-up. The Spiders (4-7, 3-1) controlled the tempo early, keeping the ball in the Owls’ end, and built a 3-1 lead. While the Owls couldn’t capitalize on their few chances, the Spiders easily cashed in on their opportunities.
“Richmond just came out to play and obviously we didn’t,” sophomore midfielder Johna Capaldo said. “We just didn’t capitalize. We had the opportunities and couldn’t take advantage of them.”
Sniper Allison Frengs brought the Owls to within one at the 1:29 mark, but that was as close as the Owls would get.
Richmond’s Claire Cunniff gave the Spiders’ momentum when she blew a shot past goalie Megan McLouth with just 14 seconds left in the half. The Spiders carried a 4-2 lead into the break.
Early in the second half, the Owls peppered Richmond goalie Jackie Swansburg, to no avail. The Spiders netminder stood tall, making 11 saves, many from point blank range.
Junior attacker Patty Glavin narrowed the Owls’ deficit to two when she took a sharp pass from junior midfielder Nicole Cataldo and put it past Swansburg at 24:28 of the second half. At this point, the Spiders maintained the lead, 5-3.
But the Owls failed to control the draw at midfield after any of their second-half goals. Coach Jennifer Ulehla said the ineffectiveness off the draw has given the Owls trouble all season.
“The last couple of games we’ve had a real problem with it,” Ulehla said. “To me it comes down to desire. I think we watch and we don’t react.”
After Glavin’s goal, the Spiders fired right back with two more goals, giving them a comfortable 7-3 lead. On the first of the two goals, Richmond forward Samantha Tract ran past a lackluster Owls defense for the score.
Goals by Owls midfielders Corey Leader and Capaldo in the final two minutes brought the Owls to within two. But those goals were non-factors. Richmond once again won the final draw and easily killed the game’s final minute.
“We had opportunities to really get the game back on track,” Ulehla said. “But we didn’t fake, we didn’t do what we needed to do in order to put the ball in the net.”
Next up for the Owls is a Wednesday showdown with Delaware. Former Temple coach Kim Ciarrocca, who left last season after 12 years at the helm, coaches the Blue Hens. Capaldo, who played one season under Ciarrocca as a freshman, said emotions could be a factor.
“It’s going to be a huge, huge game for us,” Capaldo said. “It’s going to be emotional and it’s going to take a lot of heart to play that game. We’re going to have to come out and play really hard to do it.”
Jonathan Campbell can be reached at email@example.com.