Temple University women’s lacrosse (10-3, 6-2 The American Athletic Conference) picked up its fifth and sixth straight wins this weekend, defeating East Carolina University (3-11, 1-7 The American) 13-7 on Friday and 11-6 on Sunday.
“This was a big goal of ours, to be able to win both games this weekend,” said head coach Bonnie Rosen. “It keeps us moving forward in so many ways.”
The wins kept the Owls in the running for an NCAA Tournament bid, Rosen added.
Temple clinched a spot in The American Athletic Conference Tournament with Friday’s win. On Sunday, the Owls honored their seniors, who were playing the last home games of their careers.
Temple struck first in Friday’s game when junior attacker Abaigeal Ryan scored just one minute and 15 seconds in.
The Owls then scored seven straight goals, with the first coming from Ryan, the next three coming from Whitaker, the next two coming from sophomore attacker Julie Schickling and the final goal coming from sophomore midfielder Mackenzie Roth, who scored with just 12 seconds remaining in the first half giving Temple an 8-2 lead.
Schickling’s first goal at the 2:08 mark came after Temple’s defense forced a Pirates’ turnover with the shot clock winding down, and the Owls quickly got into a fast break offense.
Scoring opportunities in transition is a facet of Temple’s offense they’ve been working on for a couple weeks, Rosen said.
“Not only was it a great defensive stand and a great finish, but we knew the elements of who was on the field and when to finish,” Rosen said. “There’s been lots of continued growth and that’s what we’re gonna need to make a run at our conference championship.”
Sophomore midfielder Belle Mastropietro scored less than 30 seconds into the second half and extended Temple’s lead to 9-2.
Mastropietro, who is tied for third on the team in overall points, was unavailable for both of last weekend’s wins against Cincinnati.
“It was wonderful to get [Mastropietro] back on the field,” Rosen said. “Last week, we got a chance to grow our depth, which was really great, and [junior midfielder Gabrielle Kirsch] did a really nice job stepping in. Now we’re three deep again in the midfield and have some more options.”
The first half of Sunday’s game was a much tighter affair, as the Pirates’ defense forced Temple into more turnovers.
Mastropietro scored at the 26:17 mark of the first half to give Temple a 1-0 lead, but ECU fought back and took a 2-1 lead at the 21:21 mark. It was the only lead ECU held all weekend.
Whitaker, Ryan and Schickling all scored, giving Temple a 4-2 lead at the 11:31 mark, but they were held scoreless for the remainder of the first half. ECU scored at the 8:28 mark to cut the lead to 4-3 going into halftime.
“ECU did a good job of adjusting their zone and pressured us more up top,” Rosen said. “They didn’t initially allow us to handle the ball as comfortably behind the cage or up top and disrupting the easy plays for us. It took us a full half, if not a little more, to figure out how we wanted to attack their zone.”
In the second half, Temple adjusted its offense to possess the ball more on the side of the field instead of behind the goal. The Owls scored three of the first four second half goals to go up 7-4 at the 21:43 mark.
After an ECU goal at the 19:11 mark to cut the lead to 7-5, Temple scored four straight goals, bringing its lead to 11-5. During that run, Mastropietro had two goals, while Whitaker and Ryan scored one goal each.
ECU scored with one second remaining to make the score 11-6. After Taylor won the ensuing draw control, and the final horn blew as Temple picked up its sixth straight win.
The goalkeeping duo of Martin and junior Shana Hecht was a huge part of Temple’s weekend sweep. Similar to last weekend’s sweep over Cincinnati, Hecht started both games against ECU and Martin relieved her in the second half.
Hecht made a combined 12 saves on the weekend and Martin had a combined eight.
“I thought [Hecht] got out and made some really important saves,” Rosen said. “We know how solid [Martin] has been for the past few games as well. It’s always a difficult decision to change things up when they’re going well, but this weekend it wasn’t a difficult decision because we knew [Martin] would come in and do a great job and she did.”
Temple was without Kara Nakrasius this weekend, who suffered a season-ending injury early in the second half of Temple’s 10-8 win against the University of Cincinnati on April 11. Rosen described her as the “heart and soul” of the team, and seeing her get hurt was tough for the entire team.
“It was pretty emotional to see her sustain that injury,” Rosen said. “Everyone wants this for our team and for themselves, and they certainly want to do it for [Nakrasius] too. She’s already put on her new hat and is a combination captain-coach and is gonna do her part to help us from the sideline with the same, if not greater impact than what she offered on the field.”
Temple will close out its regular season when they visit Vanderbilt University (11-4, 6-2 The American) for a two-game series on April 23 and 25.