Owls’ defense shines in season-opening victory

Temple Women’s Lacrosse held the University of Vermont to 18 shots in a 10-5 win on Friday afternoon.

Temple defeated Vermont in their season-opening game at Howarth Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania | EUNICE YI / THE TEMPLE NEWS

During the first three minutes of Temple’s season opener, the Owls were behind 1-0 to the University of Vermont, losing the ball twice in the middle of the field. Yet for the next 58 minutes, the Owls’ midfielders dominated the game and did not look back. Whether it was facilitating for the attackers or winning back possession in the defensive third, Temple’s combinations in the midfield were too much for Vermont to handle. 

No. 22 Temple Women’s Lacrosse (1-0, 0-0 The American Athletic Conference) defeated the University of Vermont (0-1, 0-0 The American East) 10-5 in their season-opening contest at Howarth Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The nationally-ranked Owls’ quest for the postseason got off to a decent start as they had their best defensive performance since 2021. 

“They hung in there mentally,” said head coach Bonnie Rosen. “This was a defensive battle today. I think weathering the frustrations of not being able to score or some of the unforced turnovers was a big part of our win today.”

After the slow start, Temple utilized ball movement to find their rhythm. Superior stickhandling and faster feet on defense allowed for the Owls to create momentum when switching the field. They turned defense into offense on several occasions in the first half, with more than 12 shots across two quarters. 

Vermont’s initial goal was awarded to sophomore attacker Maddie Erskine in just more than one minute and 30 seconds of play. The fans on the Vermont side of the bleachers were on their feet, but were quickly silenced just minutes later by Temple’s all-conference attack force.

Temple’s first goal of the season went to senior Maeve Tobin off an assist from senior Mackenzie Roth. Roth led the Owls with 36 assists last season and played a large role in their 2022 offensive sets. On this goal, Roth darted behind the defense before a cross-net pass found Tobin’s stick for an easy opportunity. 

The Owls’ second quarter offense was not as strong as it was in the first. The opportunities they did have resulted in misses or saves, and although they had much more possession, they took a two-goal lead into halftime.

Despite offensive mishaps, Temple’s defense was their strong suit in the opening contest. Defenders junior Maddie Barber and junior Katie Shallow helped lead a unit that only gave up 18 shots throughout the course of the game. When their offense had fallen stagnant, the defense came up with several key stops.

In the third quarter, Roth got the Owls back on the board with a solo-goal between two defenders. Temple led 5-2 at this point and it was the first time in more than 20 minutes that the Owls scored a goal. 

The fourth quarter saw senior Belle Mastropietro assist sophomore midfielder Erin King for the Owls’ sixth goal of the game. Mastropietro made a defender fall with a move before finding King who flashed before the net for the goal. Just three minutes later, sophomore attacker Olivia Murphy scored off of a free position shot to make the lead 7-3. 

“[Mastropietro] might not have all of her offensive impact moments right away,” Rosen said. “Hopefully we wear a team down and then she can find it towards the end of a game.”

Roth, a Preseason First-team All Conference attacker, and Mastropietro, the American’s Preseason Midfielder of the Year, combined for nine shots, four goals and three assists. However, it was their off-ball movement and communication that led to Temple opportunities in the second half and ultimately secured their win.

Their defense, though, was near-perfect all game. Sophomore goalkeeper Taylor Grollman had eight saves and forced many more misses behind a stellar defense. 

“A big shoutout to Taylor Grollman,” Rosen said. “Her first career start as a college goalkeeper and she did a really good job today.”

Up next, Temple heads to Columbus, Ohio to take on No. 23 Ohio State (1-0, 0-0 Big 10) at 12 p.m. on Feb. 12. 

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