Of the players who practice penalty strokes, Sarah Keer has been most consistent, coach Marybeth Freeman said.
The redshirt-senior forward never had an opportunity to take a penalty stroke this season until Sunday. With about five minutes left in overtime at Howarth Field, Keer knocked a shot toward the top right corner of the net past University of California, Davis sophomore goalkeeper Chelsea Bigelow to give the Owls a 3-2 win.
“There’s a bunch of different spots that I can hit,” Keer said. “So I think today I just chose that one because that’s where I’m most comfortable.”
“I think that she puts a lot of power behind it, which even if you have accuracy and pace, even if the goalkeeper does know where you’re going it’s hard to save,” Freeman said.
— Evan Easterling (@Evan_Easterling) October 8, 2017
Keer had the penalty-stroke opportunity after senior midfielder Rachael Mueller drew a foul near the top of the shooting circle. She fielded a pass from sophomore back Becky Gerhart and turned decisively to her right to attempt a shot, which the team works on in practice, Mueller said. She “thrives in pressure situations” and “knows what to do with the ball,” Freeman said.
Mueller has had a hand in both overtime wins for Temple (4-8, 0-4 Big East Conference). She scored the game-winning goal in the 75th minute against Sacred Heart University on Sept. 24.
“My motto in overtime is, ‘The faster you get the ball in the net, the faster seven-v-seven is done and you can stop running,’” Mueller said.
UC Davis senior midfielder Kate Young scored the Aggies’ second penalty-corner goal of the game off assists from senior backs Briana Sooy and Madison Cohen to tie the game with three minutes, 53 seconds left.
“We got a little sloppy in our defensive circle that led to that corner where they were able to put the ball past us,” Freeman said. “So we’ve just got to be a little more disciplined in the circle. I thought our team did a good job of pressuring the ball outside the circle. We got a little sloppy when they came in, so we have to look at that.”
The Aggies (1-11, 0-1 America East Conference) held a one-goal halftime lead after scoring just their fifth first-half goal of the season before Temple scored twice in a span of 3:06 to take the lead in the second half. The Owls coordinated the attack well through the backfield and midfield through the forward line during that stretch, Keer said.
Mueller scored the first goal, her team-leading sixth of the season, at the 40:19 mark off an assist from freshman midfielder and back Taylor Alba. About 45 seconds earlier, senior midfielder and forward Maiyah Brown threaded a pass to Mueller in the shooting circle, but Mueller fanned on the shot.
Sophomore midfielder Kathryn Edgar sparked Temple’s second goal with a run through the midfield into the attacking third. She drew a foul and earned a penalty corner. Edgar settled the ball on the play and passed to the near post, where sophomore midfielder Maddie Merton gave Temple a 2-1 lead.
Edgar now leads Temple with five assists.
“[Kathryn] is a facilitator,” Freeman said. “And now if you’re looking at corner situations, she’s able to have the ball and do things with it, but she’s also able to facilitate and set people up from doing that.”
Of Temple’s six remaining regular-season games, three are against Big East opponents. The Owls face conference rival Villanova on Friday at Howarth Field before Sunday’s non-league game against Penn.
With an 0-4 record in Big East play, the Owls are last in the standings. The top four teams reach the conference tournament, which Temple has reached all four years it has been in the Big East.
“We need to win out,” Mueller said. “I know we can do it, and I’m excited for what’s to come.”