Throughout her collegiate career, Tiffany Pulaski has never been a loser.
In her three years with Temple lacrosse, she has amassed a 40-17 record, which includes a near-perfect mark in the Atlantic Ten Conference and three A-10 titles.
But this year Pulaski has learned how unpredictable success can be. With a 5-6 record – including Temple’s first-ever loss in A-10 play – the co-captain is doing all she can to make sure the Owls climb to the top and earn a fourth straight bid to the NCAA Championships.
Pulaski tied a team-record yesterday when she tallied 10 goals and two assists in a 23-4 win over Lafayette.
But with 14 underclassmen to guide under her wing, Pulsaki has had her work cut out for her.
“It’s been a little of a rocky year I think for Tiff,” coach Kim Ciarrocca said. “It’s a new situation. She hasn’t lost many games since she’s been here at Temple.”
Because of the youth movement Ciarrocca has been forced to start anywhere from six to eight freshmen. Progress has been slow.
With only four seniors on the squad, Pulaski and co-captain Marie DesMarias are adjusting to their new roles and the challenges that arise.
Pulaski described her relationship with the new recruits as love-hate.
“Off the field I’m their best friend, we get along very well,” Pulaski said. “On the field, I won’t think twice to yell at them if they’re doing something wrong.”
Freshman Jessica Chadwin seconds that.
“She says what needs to be said to get someone pumped up and ready to play,” Chadwin said.
Pulaski was modest when asked if this year’s squad belonged to her, and gave credit to the senior trio surrounding her.
Ciarrocca wanted credit to be given where it was due.
“When Tiffany plays well, she picks up everyone else around her,” Ciarrocca said. “We have a very, very young group playing on the field right now and [Tiffany] has adjusted tremendously. Not only is she a great athlete, [she’s] a great person.”
Despite being able to help the team from almost any position on the field, Pulaski has been most effective on the offensive side of the ball. She has scored at least one goal in every game, and leads the team with 38. The Owls are 3-0 when she scores four or more goals.
Pulaski scored a season-high seven goals on the road against Old Dominion earlier this season. After being down 10-9 in the second half with five minutes to go, Pulaski netted three unanswered goals to dethrone the Monarchs, 12-9. The win snapped a three-game losing streak.
“She was on a mission,” Ciarrocca said about Pulaski’s performance.
Pulaski’s fun and aggressive style on the field is what her teammates find most appealing.
“I love when she just takes the ball,” sophomore Maria Carpenter said. “She can score at will, whether she has five girls on her or one girl on her. She can do whatever she wants on that field. She owns it.”
Carpenter and Pulaski both attended Boyertown High School and played together on the lacrosse team for one year. She said Pulaski’s personality hasn’t changed.
“She loves to have fun,” Carpenter said. “She’s just an interesting person. She has an incredible presence, and you notice her when she’s around.”
It is this presence that Carpenter believes has a positive affect on the team.
While Pulaski won’t graduate this spring, her eligibility will end. There currently is no professional women’s lacrosse league, and the idea of never playing again is unsettling for the Criminal Justice major.
“It crosses your mind but you don’t want to think about it because it’s just over after that,” Pulaski said. “It’s a weird thought knowing that after one game you’ll never play again.”
However, Ciarrocca has asked Pulaski to return to the team next year to assist in some capacity. Pulaski has accepted the invitation.
Steve Papurt can be reached at email@example.com.