At the end of the fourth quarter with barely more than a minute remaining, Liberty University senior forward Jill Bolton found an open attacker near the cage and sent a pass to sophomore forward Daniella Rhodes before the second-year player tapped the ball in on a wide-open shot, sealing the 2-0 victory for the Flames.
Temple University field hockey (1-4, 0-4 Big East Conference) lost to Liberty (5-0, 4-0 Big East Conference) for the second straight time at Howarth Field Sunday afternoon.
The playing conditions presented a challenge for both teams, with heavy rain falling from the start.
“The weather definitely adds some difficulty as we struggled to get a good grip on our sticks for our corners,” head coach Susan Ciufo said.
The Flames are the top-ranked offense in division one NCAA field hockey. Their high-powered attacking unit averages 5.67 goals per game and is a constant threat to score at any time.
The Owls’ defense held strong, only allowing two goals out of the Flames’ 14 shot attempts and eight penalty corner chances.
The unit also missed its senior back Dani Batze, who left yesterday’s game with an injury, but the team adjusted and stepped up on defense, junior back Nienke Oerlemans said.
“We had a big change in the backfield since Dani [Batze] was not able to play, however, I think that Annie [Judge] picked it up really well, as a group I think that we played very composed and did not let them receive the ball a lot,” Oerlemans said.
While Temple’s defense played well, the offense continued to struggle to find the back of the cage.
This is the third consecutive time the Owls’ offense was shutout. Temple only produced six shots today and had four penalty corner chances.
The offense found some success in the second and third quarter, producing three shots per period, but in the first and fourth quarters the team failed to produce any shots.
The offense has developed and is in better positions to score compared to last year, but they are missing the hunger to score in the circle, Cifuo said.
“We need continued low body positions from our attackers, laying out, leading ahead of defenders to trap balls, and bravery to take defenders on,” Ciufo said. “Without those core pieces, we limit ourselves to only scoring on corners which isn’t threatening enough.”
Early in the first quarter, sophomore defender Jodie Conolly scored on a penalty corner assisted by sophomore defender Bethany Dykema and freshman midfielder Lizzie Hamlett, which gave the Flames a 1-0 lead.
Liberty’s speed and intensity around the circle makes it difficult for defenses to stop them, Oerlemans said.
“They have very fast forwards, and they move around a lot,” Oerlemans added. “They also take every shot possible in the circle, which meant that we could not fall asleep in the backfield once.”
Temple senior goalie Cristina Carotenuto finished the day with six saves from the cage.
The Owls will play on the road against Villanova University (0-4, 0-4 Big East Conference) on March 6 at 3 p.m.