Owls advance in NCAA Tournament

Temple University beat the University of Massachusetts 14-13 in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday night.

Senior midfielder Bridget Whitaker passes the ball to sophomore midfielder Belle Mastropietro during the Owls' game against Saint Joseph's University at Howarth Field on March 13. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Although Temple University lacrosse finished the first half with a five-goal lead, the University of Massachusetts scored five consecutive goals about eight minutes into the second half, which reduced the Owls lead to one goal. 

The Owls (13-5, 7-3 The American) won 14-13 against the Minutemen (15-3, 8-0 Atlantic 10) in the first round of the NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse Championship at the Newton Campus Lacrosse and Soccer Field at Boston College on Friday night.

“There were a lot of things about our conference play that prepared us for all the different styles, so we didn’t have to reinvent ourselves,” said head coach Bonnie Rosen.

The Owls totaled only nine fouls throughout the entire game. The Minutemen totaled 20 fouls and 13 turnovers, which stemmed from extending arms into the Owls and unsafe checks.  

The Owls’ strong first-half play and their ability to make important shots when needed allowed them to hold onto their lead throughout the game. Temple had six different goal scorers in the game, but they were forced to play a closely-contested game until the end due to a lack of momentum.

The Owls came into the first half with high energy and smart plays. Temple’s aggressive defense made safe checks and clears, which set up a perfect opportunity for Temple’s offense to score.

Temple had nine points in the first half from five different goal scorers. Sophomore midfielder Belle Mastropietro, who totaled five goals, made the majority of her shots by charging the net and beating the Minutemen defenders to goal. 

Forty-four seconds into the second half senior midfielder Bridget Whitaker scored a goal off the draw, but the six-point lead was short-lived after the Owls went into a shooting drought, allowing the Minutemen to score five consecutive goals on Temple’s defense.

“The second half started off what we wanted to execute right away,” Rosen said. “Then it got hard, we made some unforced errors and they went on a roll between their draw and their effectiveness in shooting.”

UMass graduate student attacker Kaitlyn Cerasi, who totaled five goals and won five draw controls, was a major focal point of UMass’ offense. 

The Minutemen’s fate was sealed once  Cerasi went in for a shot, but her accuracy was off and the ball came off Temple’s goal post allowing Temple junior defender Kessina Heyn  to pick up the ground ball and bring it back over to Temple’s offense. 

“Our nerves got the best of us for a little bit as the game started to get closer,” Rosen said. “In the end, I was really happy that we dug for some important moments to finish up the game.”

This is the first time Temple made the tournament since 1998. The Owls’ next game will be against Boston College at 1:00 p.m. on May 16.   

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