Owls continue to struggle against top-ranked teams

The squad has yet to score a goal against Top 5 competition.

Amber Youtz advances the ball against Drexel on Sunday. Donald Otto | TTN
Amber Youtz advances the ball against Drexel on Sunday. Donald Otto | TTN

There is plenty of work left to do for the field hockey team, despite its national ranking.

Temple was shut out by No. 3 Maryland 3-0 Sept. 14, the second time in a week that the field hockey team was shut out by a team ranked within the top five – it lost to Duke Sept. 7, also a 3-0 final.

“They’re a phenomenal team,” senior forward Amber Youtz said of the Terrapins. “They’re ranked and they’ve always been ranked. They have the personnel, individually and as a unit, to accomplish great things. But I think we held our own.”

Temple was outshot 25-7 on the box, and 21-3 in shots on target. While the game’s statistics were lopsided, the team insisted that the match-up was much closer than the scoreboard might have shown.

“They only scored on corners,” Youtz said. “So they scored when they were up seven against four. It wasn’t during actual field play, and I think that just says a lot in itself – that we can just hang with a top-ranked team in field play the entire game and not let them have one goal during field play.”

“[Maryland] was a tough loss,” senior midfielder and co-captain Nicole Kroener said. “But I think we’re being more competitive against these top teams like Duke and Maryland. If we keep holding ourselves to wanting these tight, competitive games throughout the whole season then I think we can go pretty far.”

The Owls have held their own through their first six games of the season, with a 5-3 record and the No. 13 ranking. Those two losses, however, came from two of the three nationally ranked opponents they faced so far.

Temple did shut out the University of Massachusetts, which entered the season ranked No. 10, 2-0 in the season-opening weekend. However, that team has since struggled to a 2-5 record, falling out of the Top 20 by the time Week One of the national coaches’ poll released on Sept. 9.

Following the loss to Maryland, coach Amanda Janney said there was still a small gap between Temple and some of NCAA Division I’s elite.

But with conference play approaching, Youtz believes it’s better to know where the team stands now.

“It’s good that we’re playing those kind of caliber teams right now,” Youtz said. “It’s exposing our weaknesses and what we need to work on. I think doing that early in the season gives us more time to prepare knowing that [No. 6 Penn State] has the same kind of great corners as Maryland.”

“We’re learning now how to handle those teams and handle losses,” Youtz added. “If you go through a season without losing, you’re not going to make any changes, and I think it’s great that we have gotten reality checks in losing early.”

Defense aiming for efficiency

Before Temple played Maryland, it had only allowed one goal off a penalty corner. That was back on Aug. 29 in Temple’s first game of the season, when Northeastern’s sophomore forward Emmy Zweserijn scored with less than five minutes left in what would eventually become a 4-2 win for the Owls.

Temple allowed another corner goal in its 2-1 defeat of Bucknell Saturday, but Janney said the team won’t make any significant changes to a nut that has remained solid otherwise.

“Both teams scored really good goals, and in the game of hockey when you execute on your corners you should be scoring goals,” Janney said. “Maryland scored off some perfect straight shots on us, and then Bucknell had a really good play against us. But that’s hockey and we know we need to score more than one goal to win games.”

Millen keeping steady in goal

Goalkeeping hasn’t been anything Temple has had to worry about.

Redshirt senior Lizzy Millen has kept the momentum going from a strong 2013 campaign, posting a .824 save percentage, a 1.47 goals against average and a shutout.

Millen was named the Big East’s Defensive Player of the Week to start the season, and earned the honor again this past week after making 17 saves, tying her career high, in the loss to Maryland last Sunday. She first stopped 17 shots on Sept. 1 of last season in a 5-1 loss to the Terrapins at Geasey Field.

Nick Tricome can be reached at nick.tricome@temple.edu and on twitter @itssnick215

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