With four minutes and 35 seconds remaining in double overtime, Temple University fifth-year defender Kara Nakrasius waited for the referee’s whistle to attempt a free position shot. When the whistle blew, she fired a low shot between the legs of St. Joe’s graduate student goalkeeper Melissa Semkiw and into the back of the net, winning the game for the Owls.
Nakrasius was surrounded by her teammates and the bench poured onto the field as Temple women’s lacrosse (4-1, 0-0 The American Athletic Conference) defeated its city rival St. Joseph’s (2-3, 0-0 The Atlantic 10) 11-10 on Saturday afternoon at Howarth Field.
With Saturday’s victory, Temple added another win to an already impressive start to its season, which included a 12-8 upset against No. 11 Towson on March 10.
The Owls’ win snapped a three-game losing streak to St. Joe’s dating back to 2018.
“There’s a huge smile under this mask,” said head coach Bonnie Rosen. “This game meant a lot to this team. It really, really did. Not only to keep the momentum up, but to be able to pull off the win against St. Joe’s in the style of play that we had to go through is a huge confidence booster.”
Prior to Saturday’s game, both of St. Joe’s losses this season came by just one goal, including a 10-9 loss to Hostra on Feb. 17 and a 13-12 overtime loss on Feb. 24 to No. 16 Drexel.
“St. Joe’s is always a really difficult game,” Rosen said. “They’re athletic and competitive and physical, so we were prepping for a very fast-paced game. We did a really good job of making sure we didn’t give up easy transition opportunities, and we didn’t let them take easy shots.”
Temple senior midfielder Jackie Cerchio opened the scoring at the 28:07 mark of the first half. After receiving a pass from sophomore midfielder Mackenzie Roth, Cerchio got between two defenders and beat Semkiw to the bottom right of the net.
Roth scored her first goal of the game with 18:09 left to play in the first half to put Temple up 3-2. St. Joe’s then scored two straight goals to go up 4-3, but Temple senior midfielder Jen Rodzewich scored to tie the game at 4-4 with 4:18 left in the first half.
The second half was a back-and-forth affair, as Temple scored three goals in the first eight minutes to take a 7-4 lead. Nakrasius, senior midfielder Bridget Whitaker and junior attacker Abaigeal Ryan all scored during the three-goal run.
St. Joe’s then went on a four-goal run, taking an 8-7 lead with 13:55 remaining in the game. Junior attacker Lauren Figura scored three of the four goals for St. Joe’s during that time.
“We knew that the St. Joe’s offense was just waiting to open up and score,” Rosen said. “When they get moving and start shooting, they can put up a lot of points. They created some isolation space and we were a little slow to close it. Then when we closed it, we didn’t pick up the top speed inside cutters, and they did a great job of capitalizing on it.”
Cerchio scored her third goal of the day to tie the game at 8-8 with 6:59 to play. Sophomore midfielder Belle Mastropietro scored 27 seconds later to put Temple up 9-8.
Hawks senior attacker Sam McGee tied the game at 9-9 with 4:18 left.
With 3:29 left, Mastropietro stepped up and drove to the front of the net through contact and beat Semkiw low to give Temple a 10-9 lead. The goal was Mastropietro’s 16th of the season.
With just over a minute to play, Temple junior goalkeeper Shana Hecht saved a shot from Hawks junior midfielder Riley Delaney, but the rebound went straight to senior attacker Stephanie Kelly, who beat Hecht and tied the game at 10-10.
In the second overtime period, Mastropietro had a chance to win the game off a free position shot with 4:53 left. Semkiw stopped the shot, but Temple held the possession and got the ball to fifth-year attacker Meghan Hoffman behind the net, who passed off to Nekrasius in front of net. Nekrasius got fouled, which led to her eventual game winning shot.
“What a fantastic test for this group today,” Rosen said. “Even us as coaches too, to be able to coach into an overtime game, to be able to make adjustments down the stretch. We’ve now seen a couple different kinds of games, and this one will definitely prepare us a little bit more going into conference season.”
Temple’s next game is on March 19 at 3 p.m., when they’ll host the University of Florida (3-2, 0-0 The American) in the Owls’ first conference game of the season.