Picked to finish fifth, Rosen’s squad to enter Big East as unknown

Lacrosse will open its season next weekend at rival St. Joseph’s.

The Owls are projected to finish closer to the bottom than the top of the Big East Conference standings, but Bonnie Rosen said to expect the unexpected.

“I think this team has the ability to surprise a lot of teams this year,” the eighth-year coach said.

Temple concluded its final year in the Atlantic 10 Conference with a 9-8 record (4-3 A-10) and a first-round loss to Duquesne in the A-10 tournament.

The Big East Preseason Poll – released on Jan. 23 – has the Owls finishing fifth in the conference. But heading into this season, much like the other Owl teams that went into their first year in a new conference, the lacrosse team is going in as a bit of an unknown.

“It’s an exciting position to be in, with everyone knowing not much about us,” sophomore attacker Rachel Schwaab said. “It will be fun to go out and show them what we have.”

“We worked really hard all fall,” sophomore midfielder Summer Jaros said. “Condition mentally, physically, came back early. We’re ready to take these teams on, and we want to be that underdog.”

Both Schwaab and Jaros are coming off standout freshman campaigns. Schwaab finished third on the team in offense with 23 goals and 10 assists for 33 points, while Jaros added five goals of her own. Both said they, along with the rest of the team, are working to build off of last season.

“Just keep pushing,” Schwaab said. “I think we’re all, as a team, doing that really well. We’ve worked really hard, and I think it’s shown. Everyone’s gotten better, and I’m just excited for the season.”

Jaros, however, said she will have to make an adjustment this year, switching more to the defensive end.

“They told me last year they were going to switch things around,” Jaros said. “It’s all about what the team needs. I was open-minded and really wanted to hit the ground running when I came back this year. I’m really excited, it’s going to be different on the field, but I’m ready to get out on the field and play.”

Temple lost six seniors and one fifth-year player to graduation. Two of those seniors were the team’s leading scorers in 2013: attacker Stephany Parcell – 40 goals – and midfielder Charlotte Swavola – 38 goals.

Rosen said the team had a tendency to rely more on its veterans last season, but will have to make a full team effort in order to be successful in 2014.

“The younger players have to be willing to assume the position of making that scoring impact,” Rosen said. “I think we relied on a few key players last year because they were just more mature and ready to do it. We’ll probably be a much more well-rounded offense this year. We have a lot of scoring threats in the infield and attack.”

This year’s seniors include attacker Jaymie Tabor, who scored 27 goals in 2013, midfielders Kelly Syphard and Lea Britton and graduate defender Nina Falcone. They’ll be there to provide leadership, but the contributions are expected to come from every class.

“We are wide open right now,” Rosen said. “Our seniors last year did a really fantastic job for us. They were just anchors to the program, and all the underclassmen were athletes that really helped make a big difference. This year it’s who can do that, plus know more and be better in their play. I expect our senior class to be really strong.  Certainly we expect early in the season for them to be key leadership on the field.”

“They all have a lot of experience and have seen a lot and are the most comfortable on the field right now,” Rosen added. “We have returning players from every class except for freshmen in terms of playing, so right now from a position standpoint, I expect there is a lot of fighting right now for who’s going to be the starting people, but we expect to play quite a big group of players.”

Temple will have a series of preseason scrimmages Saturday at the University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field against Penn, Georgetown and Towson.

The Owls will open up the 2014 campaign the following Saturday against St. Joe’s.

Nick Tricome can be reached at nick.tricome@temple.edu or on Twitter @itssnick215.

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