Temple won its only scheduled scrimmage of the year today, defeating Drexel University 1-0 in a game that featured the Owls’ new balanced offensive style.
Sophomore midfielder Maiyah Brown managed the only goal of the game less than five minutes into the second half off a shot into the top right corner of the net. Temple totaled 10 shots compared to Drexel’s 15, but matched the Dragons with four shots on goal.
“Our team really focused on the things we talked about during halftime,” Brown said. “We had really good interchanging, which allowed me to open up and have a goal at the end. It was a good pass from my teammate.”
The team’s depth was on display as well with 22 out of the 26 players on the roster playing in the match. For much of the game, coach Marybeth Freeman made multiple substitutions every few minutes.
“I think our [offensive style] is working out for the best,” Brown said. “With the sub rotation we have fresh legs coming in, so we have hard work for maybe five to seven minutes and a new set of people. It has just given us a spark and shaken up the opposition.”
The first half was a back-and-forth defensive battle. The Dragons were on Temple’s side of the field with scoring opportunities most of the time, outshooting the Owls nine to four.
The second half was a different story as both teams produced six shots. Brown’s goal came with 31 minutes, two seconds left in regulation off a long, downfield pass from one of the midfielders in the back end.
“[Brown] had a great finish on a goal,” Freeman said. “I think she’s definitely seeing the field well, utilizing her speed and exploding into the space we need her to be in. I also think it takes a team to tango. We have to get Maiyah the ball and we have to make space-clearing runs for her to move into with the ball.”
The score changed the momentum, fueling another scoring opportunity, a missed penalty shot later in the game, and ignited the strong second half defense.
“I think the [defense] definitely improved [today],” said senior backer Rachel Steinman. “The whole team was very active on defense today. There were a lot of jabs and pokes we were able to get. We kept Drexel’s heads down and we were able to capitalize on that.”
Despite the shutout and senior goalkeeper Haley Mitchell’s four saves, Freeman thinks the team’s defense has a lot to improve on.
“There was some improvement, but I’m looking for more,” Freeman said. “Mainly because the way we play defense is essentially the character of a team. I think that if you’re weak in your approach or if you’re off balance or you get eliminated, that gives a very clear indication to the opposite team that you’re able to get beaten easily, which is not what we want to do. Individual defense will remain a focus for sure.”
The Owls now have less than a week to prepare for the University of Maryland, which finished the 2014 season ranked as the second team in the country in the NHFCA Division I National Coaches Poll. Temple will host the Terrapins at Geasey Field at 3 p.m. to start the season next Friday afternoon.
Matt Cockayne can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @mattcockayne55.