Speed was the name of the game on Wednesday, and the Owls just weren’t prepared for all the running.
On a rain-slicked turf, the Owls lost control of the ball often, dropping a 3-1 decision against Drexel in a non-conference game at Geasey Field. In the last home date of the season, Temple played from behind the entire game. Despite the loss, the Owls (7-9, 1-2) didn’t lose any ground in the Atlantic Ten standings.
From start to finish, the Dragons (6-9, 2-2) controlled the pace of the game. The Owls experienced communication problems and staggered offensively. Throughout the course of the season, the Owls’ offense has been stagnant, ranking near the bottom in most offensive categories.
Senior goalkeeper Erin Conroy said her team’s biggest concern should be unity, rather than worrying about just one facet of their game.
“I think everyone played complacent today,” Conroy said. “It wasn’t entirely an offensive or defensive thing. We were outplayed. We need to do a better job of playing together and not being satisfied with what we have.”
Conroy sprawled out to make a save on Drexel’s first shot of the game. But Amanda Mouser pounced on the loose ball to put Drexel ahead, 1-0, in the 11th minute. Eight minutes later, the Dragons cushioned their lead when Elizabeth Seidel, the team leader in goals, found the back of the net.
Early deficits have hurt the Owls in previous games this season. Junior back Katie Stevenson said this needs to stop to make a run at the postseason.
“I don’t think it was [Drexel] at all. I think this loss is all on us,” she said. “We’ve had six games where we got pumped during the half but we had to come out already in a big hole. For whatever reason, we just come out and don’t play well.”
As Stevenson predicted, the Owls turned up their intensity in the second half. Sophomore forward Lindsay Holman got the Owls on the board midway through the second half with a goal off a corner opportunity, narrowing the Dragons’ lead to 2-1.
Redshirt freshman Katie King took a ball to the leg in the 59th minute and dropped to her knees. On the Dragons’ ensuing corner opportunity, King hobbled off the field and didn’t return to the game. With her out of the lineup, the Owls lost one of their main sources of speed and the Dragons took full advantage. Simply put, they played keep away, maintaining possession of the ball and holding it in their offensive end of the field for several minutes.
It wasn’t until the 61st minutes that Temple saw its best chance to tie the game get kicked to the side, literally. Freshman midfielder Ashley Bird stole the ball on the far sideline and centered a slow-rolling, bouncy pass to a teammate. The ball was kick-saved by Drexel goalkeeper Heather Dougherty, ending Temple’s scoring threat.
With four minutes remaining, Heather Bloemker padded Drexel’s lead by knocking in a shot on a corner opportunity. The goal put the game out of Temple’s reach. It was the Owls’ fourth loss in five games.
Despite the recent losses, Temple finds itself in the thick of qualifying for the A-10 playoffs. There are three other teams with a 1-2 record in the conference. The Owls will play one of those teams, La Salle, on the road on Saturday. With three games to play, all against teams with similar records, Fuchs said the remainder of her team’s schedule will be daunting. She feels her team is up for the challenge, regardless of their competition.
“There’s a logjam right now for those last two spots,” Fuchs said. “The last four teams we play, it’s basically going to be a bloodbath. If we take better care of our fundamentals, we have a shot to win.
“I think we really can win those games, too. A-10 action should get these girls sparked. These last two weekends should be interesting.”
Christopher A. Vito can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.