It was just too good to be true.
After starting the season undefeated and beating Rutgers Saturday, 3-2, to start the Temple Invitational, the field hockey team was in for a treat Sunday when it hosted 16th-ranked Michigan State at Geasey Field.
The players were pumped, full of adrenaline and set to shock any cynic that thought the unranked Owls couldn’t do the job.
Those cynics would have been right, but it was a fight to the finish.
The Owls lost 2-1 in a double-overtime thriller to split the Invitational and fall to 2-1 on the season.
Temple maintained a strong defense all game as the Spartans tested the Owls every which way.
“It was definitely a battle,” junior Ashley Bird said. “We fought the whole time, both overtimes, and it was just a let down at the end.”
Michigan State infiltrated the Owls’ territory for the first 10 minutes of play until the Owls gained access to the ball and quickly moved down the field.
The Owls moved swiftly enough to get off two shots with 17:20 remaining in the first half. Temple attempted a third shot, only to be fouled by the Spartans, granting them a corner shot.
The Owls took full advantage.
Midfielder Alli Lokey received the ball off the corner and capitalized big time, giving Temple the game’s first goal with 16:49 remaining in the half.
Minutes later, Spartans midfielder Floor Rijpma had a clear opportunity to score but Owls defender Katie King disrupted the play, forcing a Michigan State coach to yell “Step up the pressure.”
Temple added their own defensive pressure, making key stops and disruptions.
The Spartans had a prime scoring opportunity when Owls goalie Erin Hanshue fell to the ground trying to grab the ball, but Temple cleared the ball again.
The teams kept pace offensively throughout the first half, each having four shots on goal. The Spartans entered the second half aiming to even the score against their underdog opponent, but Temple, with a little bit of luck, kept making the stops.
With 13:23 left in regulation, Michigan State was granted a corner shot but the inbound pass slipped through the sticks of several Spartans, allowing the Owls to race down the field to stop the Spartans from cashing in.
Nearing a potential upset, coach Amanda Janney called a timeout to get her team focused on closing out the game.
It was not to be so.
With 18.1 seconds on the clock, Michigan State earned another corner shot. Midfielder Anne-Sophie van Rijswijk scored the game-tying goal, saving her team from losing back-to-back contests and forcing overtime.
“We didn’t run the clock as much as we should’ve,” Janney said. “We forced a lot of our own turnovers, [something] that we need to prevent next weekend.”
From there the Spartans held most of the momentum. Temple had a chance to end the game with 10:06 on a corner shot, but missed. Another chance slipped by when the Owls missed another corner shot with 4:10 remaining.
Entering double overtime, the Owls looked fatigued. Michigan
State rushed hard on offense, freeing up Rijpma, who scored the game winner.
Janney was pleased with her team’s performance but noted the backfiring of a few tactical efforts.
“Our individual defense and our circle defense was excellent today,” she said. “Overtime, we were good. We were working the ball very well, but I think we just dribbled ourself into too much trouble.”
Janney said she sensed a little fatigue in her team during the overtime session, but still thought they “worked hard,” to try and steal the W. Janney said the loss hurts, but added that there is a lot her team can take from this game.
“We learned that we can play with anybody and we proved it,” she said.
Jabari Young can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.