With just over three and a half minutes remaining in regulation, Cincinnati senior attacker Ali Mazzola carried the ball right in front of Temple senior goalkeeper Olivia Martin. Mazzola tried to bounce the ball into the bottom right corner of goal, but Martin saved it to preserve the Owls’ 10-8 lead, sealing Temple’s win.
Temple University women’s lacrosse (8-3, 4-2 The American Athletic Conference) defeated the University of Cincinnati (4-8, 0-6 The American) 16-14 on Friday and 10-8 on Sunday at Nippert Stadium.
“This was a huge weekend,” said head coach Bonnie Rosen. “We knew the importance of these two games and that Cincinnati was going to be a tough team to battle with. Everyone is really excited that we came away with two wins this weekend.”
After being swept by the University of Florida on March 19 and March 21, Temple has won four straight conference road games.
Fifth-year attacker Meghan Hoffman and senior midfielder Bridget Whitaker both had big weekends for Temple, each recording 12 points that included eight goals and four assists for Whitaker and five goals and seven assists for Hoffman.
“This weekend was the first time where we had multiple players stepping into the moment,” Rosen said. “That’s the biggest thing. We’ve had games where one player will try to make the difference but it’s not enough people. This weekend there were just enough people owning their moment and you could just see that we were starting to own the games more.”
Friday’s game began slowly until approximately six minutes in when Bearcats’ senior attacker Alyssa Adams scored and gave Cincinnati a 1-0 lead.
Cincinnati later extended their lead to 5-1, but goals from Owls’ junior midfielder Gabrielle Kirsch and junior attacker Abaigeal Ryan cut the deficit to 6-3. Cincinnati would go on to score two straight goals, building an 8-3 lead.
Temple took the momentum before halftime after Kirsch and Whitaker each picked up their second goals of the game, making the score 8-5.
After halftime, Rosen made a slight adjustment to the offense by putting two players behind Cincinnati’s goal instead of three. It opened up more cutting and ball movement behind the goal, which is where Hoffman thrives.
“One of the best parts about [Hoffman] is that she can effectively punish a team that stops paying attention to her behind goal,” Rosen said. “If she’s feeding and they want to pressure her from behind, then there’s space for her to take defenders from behind the cage and go towards the crease.”
Hoffman and Whitaker each picked up three goals and two assists in the second half on Friday, as Temple and Cincinnati fought back and forth for the lead.
At the 14:12 mark, Temple took their first lead of the game at 12-11 thanks to a Whitaker goal and never looked back as they completed the 16-14 win.
Sunday’s game had a different tone as Temple’s defense swarmed Cincinnati and forced several early turnovers, allowing the Owls’ offense more opportunities to score. Temple entered halftime with a 6-1 lead.
“I’d give credit to our defenders for learning a ton,” Rosen said. “They had a better understanding of their matchups and where the ball might go depending on the situation. We did a little less of sending double teams early, which Cincinnati was expecting, and we read their offense better.”
At the 22:18 mark of the second half, Cincinnati cut the lead to just 7-4, but Temple answered with two quick goals, extending their lead to 9-4 with 19:12 left in the game.
Cincinnati outscored Temple 4-1 the remainder of the game and could’ve scored more had Martin not denied Mazzola’s shot with just over three-and-a-half minutes remaining.
Martin, who’s been the backup to junior goalkeeper Shana Hecht, played nearly 40 minutes on Friday and just over 17 minutes on Sunday. Hecht started both games but was pulled after struggling early on Sunday and struggling in the second half on Sunday.
“[Hecht] is still our starting goalkeeper,” Rosen said. “This is what I’ve been hoping for all year, that we have a goalkeeper team. Every other position you’re willing to give people a break but goalkeeping tends to be different. I’m excited that [Martin] was able to step up and do what we needed her to do.”
Temple will look to extend its win streak against East Carolina University (3-9, 1-5 The American) at home on April 16 and 18.