Junior forward Talia Ruth didn’t expect it. Neither did her coach, Lauren Fuchs. But three penalty strokes in one game? The thought of it seemed a bit out of the ordinary to both of them.
Temple (5-5) connected on two of its three strokes on Saturday, knocking off Cornell 2-1 at Geasey Field. Ruth notched the game-winner with less than two minutes remaining in regulation.
“On a stroke penalty, you’re not even thinking if your shot could be the game-winner,” said Ruth, who is tied for the Atlantic Ten lead with three game-winning goals this season. “It’s like, we needed a goal, I had the opportunity to put it in and I just did it.”
A stroke penalty is called against a position player who stops a shot with her body rather than with her stick. Entering Saturday, the Owls had taken one stroke in nine previous games. Because of its rarity in game play, the stroke has a small role in Temple’s practice regimen.
The team’s top seven strokers take just two strokes at the end of every practice. Aside from penalty purposes, the stroke is also utilized in games knotted in a tie after overtime.
Fuchs said she has never seen three strokes in one game during her tenure here and she isn’t thinking about making any practice changes to adjust.
“They’ll get their strokes every now and then, but when they are in the circle, I expect them to shoot,” Fuchs said. “Sometimes they try to be too unselfish or the ball will take a bad hop off the stick. I just want them to shoot.”
The Owls took a 1-0 lead behind freshman defender Alli Lokey’s stroke at 33:37 in the first half. Penalty strokes aside, the Owls had plenty of chances to increase their lead. The Owls squandered eight corner shots in the first half, including three in which they failed to control the ball off the inbound pass.
“We had plenty of chances but we did score first,” Lokey said. “Whenever we get on the board first, we know we have a pretty good shot because it gets us going.”
Cornell goalkeeper Lori Blutinger rejected sophomore Lindsay Holman’s penalty stroke, Temple’s second of the game. Then, Ruth’s stroke in the 68th minute of regulation gave Temple a 2-0 advantage. The Owls defense broke down in the final minute, losing a potential shutout when Cornell’s Danielle Dunn connected on a corner play with 45 seconds left.
Although the Owls won, Cornell (2-6) was the latest team to expose their offensive deficiencies this season. Saturday’s game included, opponents have outshot the Owls by 69.
Opposing teams have also outscored the Owls by nearly one goal per game. On top of that, the Owls have been blanked three times in five losses. Crisp, short passes and increased involvement fixed the Owls’ nagging offense, with six different players taking shots. Despite the team’s offensive woes, goalkeeper Erin Conroy does not feel any added pressure in net.
“To be honest, none of us care all that much about stats, especially the other team’s stats,” Conroy said. “I try not to focus on outside stuff like that. This way I can play without pressure.”
Temple has a full-plate for homecoming weekend. The Owls will face Georgetown on Friday and open their conference schedule at home against Richmond on Saturday.
The nationally ranked Spiders defeated the Owls in the conference title game last season. Fuchs said preparation for Richmond has yet to begin.
“They were good then and they will be good this year, too,” Fuchs said of Richmond. “Georgetown is next, then we’ll worry about Richmond. I have no doubt we will need to be at our best to beat them.”
Christopher A. Vito can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.