Megan Tiernan would get greetings from people she didn’t even know.
Last semester she took Mosaic. Her identical twin sister Nicole did, too. They had the same course with the same professor, but at different times.
“People would say hi to me and I don’t know them,” Megan Tiernan said. “They’ll say, ‘Hi, Nicole,’ and I’ll just say hi back.”
But getting confused with her sister, and vice-versa, isn’t anything new – and they’re not the only ones. Teammates Kari and Avery Longstaff have been in similar situations.
“I’ll meet someone in class, then they’ll come up to me and say, ‘I said hi to you last week, why did you ignore me?’” Avery Longstaff said.
It turned out they were talking to Kari. It comes with the territory.
“All the time, someone will say hi to us on the street,” Kari Longstaff said. “We’ll just say hi back, not to be mean or so they don’t think we’re ignoring them.”
Twins aren’t new to the lacrosse program. Twin sisters Alex and Claudia Ovchinnikoff were driving forces for the program in the mid to late 90s, and then there were Hillary and Whitney Richards, who coach Bonnie Rosen had the chance to coach early on in her career at Temple.
But this time around, the Owls have two sets of twins. Not only that, but both the Tiernans and the Longstaffs are part of the same class (sophomores), study the same major (nursing) and played the same position (midfield) up until this season—Avery moved up to the attack and Kari moved to defense.
On top of that, the four lived amongst one another last year. Avery roomed in the same suite as Nicole, and Kari the same as Megan. Between that and all the time spent in classes and practices, they see each other a lot.
“It’s a novelty kind of,” Kari Tiernan said. “It’s funny because we’re together all the time.”
And that didn’t get lost on the team, as Kari Tiernan recalled some teammates jokingly referring to them as quadruplets. As far as telling them apart, Megan Tiernan said “the whole team has been pretty good with it.”
Different numbers help, but the Tiernans have another method with their hairstyles.
“If [Nicole] has a ponytail, I’ll have a braid,” Megan Tiernan said. “But when you’re running down the field it’s a little hard to tell when you’re moving so fast.”
For the Longstaffs, the difference is in playing styles.
“We play differently, at least I think our play looks differently,” Avery Longstaff said. “It’s more about play style.”
But for Rosen, the difference is in each one’s personality.
“Each have very unique personalities,” Rosen said.
“When you get to know them personality-wise, you can tell them apart,” Rosen added, mentioning that some differences lie in observations like the way they walk or the way they wear their hair.
But of course, just like Megan said, Rosen acknowledged that the differences are harder to spot when they’re running around in a game.
The Tiernans said they do just about everything together. They played the same sports and shared a lot of the same interests. The Longstaffs said they do, too.
Avery Longstaff added that it’s a leg up, because the chemistry between her and Kari is natural. The Tiernans know each other so well that they have a pretty good idea of what the other is going to do.
“I don’t think there has ever been a day in our lives where we haven’t been together,” Megan Tiernan said. “When you spend most of your time with someone, you fit pretty well. It makes everything easier. I’m never by myself or have to do anything alone.”
“It really is nice,” Nicole Tiernan said. “We’re always there for each other. I don’t know how people don’t have a twin.”
A relationship like that helps, especially when a year ago, the Tiernans and the Longstaffs were adjusting to a new setting.
“Freshman year, we were scared,” Kari Longstaff said. “Figuring out school and not being homesick.”
“It’s really nice because we don’t have to worry about being homesick as much,” Avery Longstaff said. “Half your home is with you.”
Between lacrosse and nursing, both the Tiernans and the Longstaffs have the respect of Rosen, who said that they’re fulfilling all their responsibilities between practices, games and classes, all while taking up a major that can get pretty demanding and not allow for much down time.
“For them to be able to do both is a credit to them all,” Rosen said.
Avery Longstaff acknowledged that living together can sometimes be frustrating, but that she and Kari enjoy having each other around.
“It’s not just living with your teammate,” Avery Longstaff said. “There’s the sister aspect to it.”
Nick Tricome can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @itssnick215.