Owls prioritize finishing down the stretch

No. 18 Temple University lacrosse is on a two-game losing streak, after falling to No. 13 Rutgers University and the University of Delaware.

Belle Mastropietro, a junior midfielder, tries to get control of the ball during an Owls' game against Rutgers University on Mar. 9. | NICK DAVIS / FILE

Head coach Bonnie Rosen referred to the Owls’ two-game losing streak as a wake-up call for the team. 

“We need to understand to be a team that has expectations,” Rosen said. “There is a little mindset work to be done. Everyone is excited to be doing so well, but also understands the pressure of when things go wrong.”

To help end Temple’s losing streak, Rosen is prioritizing full-field drills during practice to put players in game-like situations and build up their endurance. In both losses, Rosen saw the defenders struggle to read their opponent’s offensive plays, while the attackers weren’t finishing shots.     

No. 18 Temple University lacrosse (5-3,0-0 The American Athletic Conference) fell 15-9 to No. 13 Rutgers University (8-0, 0-0 The Big Ten Conference) on March 9 and 11-10 to the University of Delaware (2-5,0-0 The Colonial Athletic Association) on March 11. 

Against the Scarlet Knights, midfielders junior Belle Mastropietro and graduate student Quinn Nicolai were frequently double-teamed because they are the Owls’ leading scorers. Mastropietro led Temple with five goals and five draw controls, while Nicolai scored one goal and put four shots on goal. 

Although the Owls heavily rely on those two, Rosen feels the attackers need to understand how to utilize longer possessions. When Mastropietro or Nicolai can’t get the right looks, Rosen wants Temple to run more set plays that take at least 30 seconds rather than taking the first scoring opportunity. 

“Against Delaware, we kept shooting wide,” Rosen said. “That’s not actually a matter of taking a better shot, it’s understanding the angle you’re coming down on and the physicality of a stick into your core.” 

Because Temple missed a lot of shots outside, Rosen is drawing up plays in practice with more cutting options for the attackers.   

Rosen believes the Owls’ defense needs to stay disciplined and not react right away to opposing team’s offensive sets. Against Delaware, four Temple players were called for yellow cards, forcing the Owls to play a man down. 

“The defensive end was frustrated,” Rosen said. “Some of the calls were errors on our end or a nice offense from Delaware. But wanting to dig in and take the momentum back was not something we had the easiest time doing.” 

Blue Hens’ junior attacker Lizzie Hsu finished with four goals against Temple. The Owls couldn’t shut her down because she would switch her sticks inside the circle from right hand to left.

In the last two games, Rosen saw Temple’s defense moving around the ball, rather than positioning themselves to attack off the ball, leading to them getting beat. 

“We should see hopefully a more cohesive defensive effort where we are all on the same page of what’s going on instead of reacting,” said Jennifer Wong, Temple’s associate coach. “We were just a step late to everything because we were reacting instead of dictating.” 

Temple’s defense is allowing teams to shoot 70 percent of their shots on goal. Wong mentioned they’re honing in on decision-making, so the Owls aren’t overplaying their reads. 

As Temple takes on University California Davis (3-3,0-0 Big Sky Conference) today, Rosen hopes the group will use a full week of practice to remain disciplined and work collectively rather than individually.  

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