Temple University field hockey (7-9, 4-8 Big East Conference) won back-to-back games against Villanova University (4-10, 3-9 Conference) this weekend, winning 2-1 on Friday in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania and 3-2 on Sunday at home.
Temple has now won four conference games this season, doubling its number of Big East Conference wins from last season.
“Don’t sleep on us, we came here two years ago and our goal was to develop this program,” said head coach Susan Ciufo. “We knew it’s not going to happen overnight, but for us to be where we are right now, we’re right where we need to be. We believe in this program, we believe in each other, and we believe in what’s coming for the future.”
On Friday, at the end of the first quarter, Owls redshirt-sophomore midfielder Kerrie Lorenz and junior midfielder Claire Thomas assisted graduate student Veronika Novakova on a corner, giving the Owls a 1-0 lead.
In the beginning of the fourth quarter, Owls junior forward Tali Popinko assisted Lorenz for the game-winning goal.
The Owls’ defense limited the Wildcats’ offense to just three shots on Friday. Villanova scored its only goal at the end of the fourth quarter when Wildcats senior midfielder Ashley Thomas and senior forward Emily Clarke assisted Sabine de Ruijter on a corner attempt.
“I think every game we can talk about our defensive unit,” Ciufo said. “I think that they come out, they’re tough, they’re strong. Villanova was hard pressing us this whole weekend and for us, especially today, I felt like we got out of that brilliantly.”
On Sunday, the Owls took the early lead when Popinko and sophomore forward Caitlyn Amsden assisted junior back Nienke Oerlemans on a corner attempt. Oerlemans made the original pass on the entry, then placed herself on the left post and tapped the ball into the cage, giving the Owls a 1-0 lead.
In the third quarter, Villanova freshman midfielder Amanda Middleman assisted freshman forward Meghan Mitchell on a goal. Mitchell positioned herself in the circle and drove the ball into the back of the cage, tying the game 1-1.
Shortly after, de Ruijter received a penalty stroke and scored by driving the ball into the upper section of the cage, giving the Wildcats a 2-1 lead.
In the fourth quarter, the Owls’ offense began to mount their comeback when Oerlemans assisted Amsden on a corner attempt. Amsden tapped a loose ball into the cage while being surrounded by a group of defenders for her first career goal, tying the game 2-2.
Shortly after, Novakova assisted freshman forward Myrthe Schuilenburg, who was cutting across the middle of the circle for a goal. Schuilenburg quickly released the ball into the back of the cage, giving the Owls a 3-2 win. The game-winner was her first career goal in college.
“They’re getting more confident in themselves, they’re getting more courage, they’re getting more confidence in their teammates, and they’re becoming more connected,” Ciufo said.
The Owls will play La Salle University (0-9, 0-5 The Atlantic 10) on April 15 at 4 p.m. at home.