The Temple field hockey team made its path to the Atlantic Ten tournament a bit easier this weekend.
With wins Saturday at La Salle, 2-1, and Sunday at West Chester, 2-0, the Owls earned a tie with Massachusetts for second place in the A-10 standings with one game remaining in the regular season.
The weekend got off on a positive note as the Owls (9-9, 3-2) outlasted the Explorers in overtime. Coach Lauren Fuchs said the La Salle victory was especially key because it established momentum heading into the season’s crucial home stretch.
“It’s huge, but it’s not over,” Fuchs said. “[The La Salle game] was the critical one for us, obviously, since we’re not used to playing on the grass. It’s nice for us to get one under our belts.”
Temple plays its home games on the artificial turf of Geasey Field. The ball plays differently on natural grass, which is used by only a handful of teams in the A-10.
West Chester, the Owls’ opponent on Sunday, plays its games on a more familiar artificial surface. The Owls played that game as if they were right at home, dominating from start to finish. Junior forward Melissa Fritze, who scored a goal in each of the weekend’s contests, said the Owls’ attitude going into the last three games of the season was simple.
“We’re just going to win them all,” Fritze said. “We’re going to work really hard and just take all of them, and go into the A-10s strong.”
Temple entered last weekend in a four-way tie for the fourth and final spot in the A-10 tournament. The Owls likely had to win at least two out of their last three games to ensure a place in the postseason.
But Fuchs said the team wasn’t even considering the standings or any scenarios that might come with it.
“Really, we just want to take care of basics,” she said. “We just have to worry about the next play. If you worry about the outcome, you’re not doing what you need to do.”
La Salle (5-12, 1-4) caused Temple problems for the first 30 minutes, stumbling to a 1-1 halftime score. The Owls regained their footing over the course of the scoreless second half, and sophomore forward Lindsay Holman ended a long day by netting the game-winning goal with 1:01 remaining in overtime.
“It was just a great feeling,” Holman said after the goal, which was assisted by junior backer Jillian Thomas. “Our team worked hard the whole time, and we needed this win. It was such a pick-me-up.”
Against West Chester (3-13, 2-3), Fritze again opened the scoring with a weak side goal in the first half.
When sophomore forward Monica Jiao added a second-half clincher, the Owls set their sights on the Saint Joseph’s Hawks, who host Temple in the final game of the season. The winner will advance to the Atlantic Ten tournament, while the loser could miss out on the tournament entirely.
The Owls made no secret as to who they expect to advance.
“We’re going to stay strong, because we are determined to go to the A-10s,” Holman said. “Nobody [on this team] is going to let us not go, and nobody else is going to stop us.”
Benjamin Watanabe can be reached at email@example.com.