The Temple Field Hockey (10-3, 3-1 The Big East Conference) defense is tied for 23rd in the country in defensive saves with three, sixth in shutouts with five, and 15th in goals allowed.
While the Owls’ defense has been stellar as of late, the offense has encountered some recent struggles that they must address if they hope to defeat tough opponents to qualify for the Big East tournament.
“We need to work on our connection between the three lines more in the circle, because we had like a lot of circle entries, and we just don’t score,” said freshman midfielder Agustina Tucceri. “Against Liberty, UConn and Old Dominion we need to make sure that we score the goals because if not, we’re not going to win.”
The offense started out strong, scoring 27 goals in their first eight games with an average of 3.3 goals per game, helping the Owls start out with a 7-1 record. In the five games since, the team has scored eight goals, averaging 1.6 goals per game, going 3-2 in that span.
In the Owls’ 1-0 win to Big East rival Georgetown (3-10, 0-4 Big East) they were awarded 15 total penalty corner attempts and were only able to convert on their second to last corner. While they outshot the Hoyas 22-1, they struggled finding the net for goals.
In the Owls’ losses to Villanova University (8-5, 1-3 Big East) and the University of Pennsylvania (3-8, 1-2 Big East) they struggled to capitalize on their multiple scoring opportunities due to a solid opposing defense, passing up on shots for an extra pass or forcing unnecessary turnovers.
The Big East has tough opponents, including Liberty University (8-4, 4-0 Big East Conference), University of Connecticut (8-4, 3-1 Big East), and Old Dominion (9-2, 3-1 Big East) all nationally-ranked within the top 25.
“I feel like it’s just the small details that have been a problem,” said sophomore midfielder Tess Muller. “I feel like we can upset every opponent going forward if we really connect and get those little things going.”
Only the top four teams in the conference will qualify for the Big East tournament, and with so many competitive squads, the Owls will need to play as a complete team if they plan on reaching the tournament.
“Conference play just continues to get more difficult,” said head coach Michelle Vittese. “We have a great conference, and especially this year I think there’s a lot of really great teams this year, so we just have to keep defending and doing our job defending as a unit.”
With the schedule only getting tougher and fewer games left to play, the Owls will need to convert their penalty corners more efficiently, like they were in the beginning of the season.
However, as the season progresses, more teams have film to scout the Owls’ plays for their penalty corner attempts making it more difficult to convert on them.
“Teams are starting to scout us on our corner attempts,” coach Vittese said. “Now it is just a matter of adapting, adjusting and executing what we can do.”
Coming off a crucial 2-1 conference win against Providence College (5-8, 2-1 Big East), the Owls showed that they still have room to improve if they plan on going toe-to-toe with UConn or Liberty, who lost the NCAA championship last year.
The Owls were awarded ten penalty corners and were not able to convert on any of them, due to miscues or bad entry passes that cannot be repeated in upcoming key matchups.
“That was uncharacteristic,” Vittese said. “I have to honestly go back, we’ll look at that and then we might have to kind of revisit some other ways to be successful going forward.”
The Owls will now travel to Lynchburg, Virginia, on Oct. 14 to take on Liberty at 4 p.m. and attempt to pull off the upset against the number one team in the Big East.
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