In athletics, they say defense wins championships. But a ton of offense will certainly get the team to the big game.
Like a shark sensing the blood of its prey, Temple lacrosse star Kelly Ruch can see the fear in the goalie’s eyes every time she is on the attack. The senior co-captain is currently the team’s leading scorer.
“Whenever I have the ball I look to goal. Wanting the ball is what I do,” Ruch said. “Even when we’re going on defense I want the ball so bad that I usually foul.”
Last season was tough for Ruch. Although she was the team’s second-leading scorer and a second-team Mid Atlantic All-American, the Owls suffered their first losing season in five years.
This year the Owls are winning — and winning big. In their seven victories so far they defeated their opponents by an average of 13 goals per game.
According to Ruch, experience plays a major factor.
“This year nobody is afraid to take it to goal,” she said. “We have scorers all around. All seven players can score and we’re less intimidated than last year.”
Now it is the opposition that is intimidated.
Virginia Tech, the defending A-10 tournament champion, swiftly boarded the charter bus to I-95 South recently en route to an 18-6 defeat. Ruch tied her career high with nine goals, which included a string of five in a row in the first half. The single-game total was third all-time at Temple.
Ruch believes this team is the class of the A-10. Temple is currently undefeated in league play and is building serious momentum as the conference tournament approaches. A big reason for the success is the competitive edge the team gained while playing a brutal non-conference schedule.
“We get up for [the big] games,” she said. “Against [No. 2] Princeton we played so well together. We need to go into every game to play our hardest, concentrate on our fundamentals, and want it more than any other team.”
Ruch played three years of varsity lacrosse, basketball and field hockey at Phoenixville (Pa.) High School. She was MVP in all three sports, as well as first team all-league and all-area in lacrosse and field hockey her junior and senior seasons. A communications major, Ruch has aspirations of becoming a radio disk jockey.
The team wrapped up a seven-game home stretch at Geasey Field last week by defeating two A-10 foes.
The Owls hammered St. Bonaventure 29-1 on April 14. Ruch led all scorers with six goals, and Jessica Yemm added five goals for the Owls. Temple goalie Iris Alvarado received a rare opportunity to take the field at another position in the second half and capitalized by scoring her first career goal.
The Owls also defeated Duquesne 15-7 on April 16 in what was a nip-and-tuck battle up until the second half. The Owls broke open a close game by scoring three goals in a span of 17 seconds coming out of intermission.
The Owls will travel to play Massachusetts on April 21 before finishing up their regular season schedule at home against the University of Delaware and the University of Pennsylvania.