Coach Seamus O’Connor knows he doesn’t have the same team as last year.
He doesn’t have a supporting cast of nine seniors like he did in 2015. He doesn’t have the scoring support either.
The Owls (3-11, 0-4 American Athletic Conference) have been shutout seven times this season.
O’Connor said he’s implementing a philosophy of being more consistent on the offensive end in order to pull out some wins in The American.
“Right now that’s our biggest problem,” O’Connor said of the offensive struggles. He added that getting more players into the penalty box will create more opportunities for goals rather than taking long-range shots.
In Temple’s past four games, they have been outscored by their opponents 8-2.
They also rank last in The American in goals and goal per game.
Kelly Farrell and Erin Lafferty, who were the leading goal scorers last season, both graduated. The two combined for nearly half of the team’s scoring in 2015.
Through 14 games this season, the Owls have been depending on a number of different scorers to contribute. Seven different players have combined to score Temple’s 12 goals.
Junior forward Gabriella McKeown, who leads the Owls in scoring with three goals this season, said the team is improving but it’s still not executing properly on offense.
“I think we’re doing better with creativity and passing-wise, but I think it’s just the final play and the final pass,” McKeown said. “Just having better shots and taking your time when you finish. I think it can be a little crazy when you’re in front of the net with the ball and the simplest shots turn into the hardest. We’re a young team and again, we’re going to learn from that.”
One of the reasons the Owls have switched their methods on offense is because of the play of sophomore goalkeeper Jordan Nash.
Nash leads The American with 80 saves this season, already surpassing her total from a year ago. The closest goalkeeper to Nash in The American has 52 saves this season.
“When you have a hot goaltender, you got to use her,” O’Connor said. “Right now, she’s really in great form. It allows us, because of how well Jordan is playing now, to take a gamble, play less people at the back and push more people forward.”
In the Owls’ American Athletic Conference opener against Memphis, Nash recorded a career-high 17 saves in the team’s 1-0 loss on Sept. 29.
Following their conference opener, the Owls led Tulsa 1-0 heading into halftime thanks to a goal from freshman Molly Tobin.
It was the first time the Owls were playing with a lead in two weeks since they beat New Jersey Institute of Technology 2-0 on Sept. 18.
“Against Tulsa, we scored toward the end of the first half and then they came back in the second half very quickly and scored on us,” redshirt-junior forward Kayla Cunningham said. “So, I think we just need to keep our composure and play our game the whole game.”
Through four conference games, the Owls are winless against American Athletic Conference opponents and sit in last place in the standings. Last year, the Owls went 4-4-1 against conference opponents on their way to an appearance in The American’s quarterfinal game.
They’ll continue conference play this Thursday at 3:30 p.m. against South Florida at the Temple Sports Complex.
“We’re not winning as much as I usually win, but I’m really, really proud about this group of ladies,” O’Connor said. “Because we’ve had nothing but problem, after problem, after problem, but they never stopped. … I’ve been really proud of their efforts. They just adjusted.”
Tom Ignudo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.