Assistant coach Keith Cappo had his team’s undivided attention.
Following a brief trip to the Owls’ home bleachers to thank fans for their support throughout a 4-0 victory against Loyola University Maryland on Friday, coach Seamus O’Connor informed his players that Cappo had something important to tell them.
The team huddled together tightly, waiting for Cappo’s announcement with genuine smiles and wide-eyed stares.
He could barely get the words out before the team began embracing one another and screaming with joy.
Saturday’s practice had been cancelled.
“That was their nice little surprise,” O’Connor said. “They’ve achieved what I wanted them to achieve with the result today, so I just want them to have a chance to lie in tomorrow; at this stage, it’s just rest.”
“We’re trying to manage their bodies so well this year and make sure that we give them ample rest so they can be at 100 percent by the time that conference starts,” he added.
Temple was taking hits left and right on Friday, but, oddly, most of the impact came from teammate-on-teammate collisions.
The first instance arose in the 57th minute when senior defender Paula Jurewicz barrelled into junior defensive midfielder Taylor Matsinger, as both were in blind pursuit of the ball near the home sideline.
The Temple faithful gasped for air as Jurewicz, who is playing with a surgically repaired ACL in her right knee, and Matsinger thudded to the ground. The two exchanged wry smiles and popped back up to their feet with no visible hindrance.
“We were both coming at different angles, and you just have to go hard,” Jurewicz said. “We won the ball, so that’s all that really matters.”
Jurewicz stayed upright for the remainder of the match, but Matsinger, apparently, had another hit left in the tank.
Seconds after senior goalkeeper Shauni Kerkhoff made her lone save of the day in the 69th minute, Matsinger, in an effort to form a human wall between Kerkhoff and a Loyola forward, accidentally knocked over her second teammate of the day.
Kerkhoff, who got up unscathed, received little action from the opposition as the Owls controlled possession early and often, allowing Loyola to attempt five shots in the game, and none in the first half.
Senior midfielder Kelly Farrell and sophomore Elana Falcone each scored goals to give Temple a 2-0 lead less than six minutes into the match. Senior defender Erin Lafferty added another first-half goal, her first of the season, for the Owls in the 13th minute.
Lafferty then marked the first two-goal performance of her career on a penalty kick in the 64th minute for the final margin.
“I think we’ve just really been coming together as a team,” Matsinger said. “We’ve been putting in the work to get in positions to set each other up well and to make that extra run for our teammates so we can get in the box and put each other in good opportunities.”
Freshman Jordan Nash saw playing time in goal for a third consecutive game, playing a career-high 20 minutes in relief of Kerkhoff.
The 5-foot-7 inch goalkeeper from Brick, N.J., made some noise in her first appearance against Fairleigh Dickinson by saving a penalty kick. She impressed again on Friday when she broke up a sure-fire breakaway opportunity by Loyola’s Sarah Ensor in the 76th minute.
“We’re absolutely blessed at that position to have two phenomenal goalkeepers,” O’Connor said. “Even if we lose Shauni to an injury or a dip in form, we know Jordan’s going to come in and be a starter.”