When it comes to colossal field hockey matches, a meeting between Temple and Richmond ranks among the biggest in the Atlantic Ten Conference.
The Owls and Spiders know each other all too well, and their meeting Friday has been highly anticipated all season. Last year, in a meeting of two teams undefeated
in the conference, the Spiders manhandled the Owls, 5-0.
This season, coach Amanda Janney is gearing the Owls (12-4 overall, 3-1 A-10) for another hard-fought battle, but with a different result.
“Were going to prepare for them the same way we prepare for every team because we know that all the teams in the A-10 are very difficult,” she said.
“We’ll scout them and figure out what they do.” The Spiders (11-4, 4-0) are the reigning champions of the A-10, as they have won the last four conference crowns and have finished undefeated in the A-10 each season. Richmond has ended the Owls’ seasons in two of the last three years. The Owls’ upperclassmen are well aware of the Spiders’ dominance and are set to knock them off.
“That’s been one of our goals since I’ve been here,” junior Ali Lokey said. “Since I’ve been here they’ve killed us every game we’ve played. They are the team to beat.”
The 19th-ranked Spiders have momentum, having recently knocked off No. 13 James Madison. The Owls are no strangers to nationally ranked teams themselves. They’ve lost close games to three ranked teams this season in Michigan State, Maryland and American.
A co-captain, Lokey said the Owls have labored diligently throughout the season to get to where they are now and are not intimidated by Richmond’s style of play.
“It’s all about playing our hockey,” she said. “We can’t, like, completely change our game just for them.” After a slow start, the Owls reeled off seven straight wins which included a victory over rival Massachusetts, who defeated Temple last year in postseason play. Rhode Island ended that streak Oct. 8, but the Owls rebounded with conference road wins against La Salle and West Chester last weekend.
The stakes don’t get much higher, and a win over Richmond could mean big things for the team. The Owls currently sit just one game behind the Spiders in the A-10 standings.
Janney said every player knows the level of play Richmond brings, so motivation is not an issue. “The girls get so up for the game and they know it’s such a big game for us,” Janney said, “so we don’t have to do anything different as coaches because our girls are so focused.”
Janney said a win would not only help them make a push for the A-10 tournament, but undo the streak of losses served up by the Spiders. “It would be huge,” Janney said. “It would be such a good gift for our upperclassmen because they’ve worked so hard. It would reward us for all the hard work we’ve been doing as well,” she added.
Anthony Stipa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.