The first day Marybeth Freeman stepped onto Main Campus last spring, the Owls’ senior class caught her eye.
The first-year coach noticed leadership qualities in each member of the 10-player group, which has been together for four years and seen every individual contribute in a game this season.
“I was able to see that they are teachers,” Freeman said. “That was refreshing to me because they were starting early. I think from their sophomore and junior years, as they evolved into seniors they did a really good job of teaching the traditions of Temple. They understand that this is the way we have done things, this is why we have done the things that we have done.”
All 10 seniors have played the Big East conference schedule at least three times and have played the University of Maryland, University of Delaware and Penn State—nationally ranked opponents on the team’s 2015 schedule—every season since joining the program.
“Just the experience of playing against the Maryland’s and the Delaware’s,” fifth-year senior goalkeeper Haley Mitchell said. “We kind of know their tendencies, know how they play, and just know how we should come out prepared against them. It helps us out having the experience.”
Three of the seniors have headed the team on offense thus far, including preseason all-Big East forward/midfielder Alyssa Delp, forward Tricia Light and midfielder tri-captain Sarah Deck. The three seniors are the only players on this year’s 2-4 squad with six or more points. Delp and Deck are first and second on the team in goals with five and four, respectively.
“They have been great on offense,” junior midfielder Paige Gross said. “Tricia Light is so aggressive in trying to get something, a corner, a shot. Alyssa Delp is just so smart. She really gives up the ball. She really passes to our team, and she rarely lets the ball get by her. Sarah Deck is just a strong leader out there, and she will do whatever it takes to get that ball in the goal. I think that’s something that we need, kind of that aggressiveness on offense.”
The two remaining tri-captains, seniors Rachel Steinman and Taylor Shronk, in addition to Mitchell, headline the Temple defense, which is ranked No. 53 among Division I teams in goals against average at 2.83 goals allowed per game.
The graduation of Steinman, Shronk, Mitchell and the rest of the senior class in the spring will leave a void on the 2016 roster, putting in question the team’s experience and leadership ability for next season.
“Someone’s going to have to step up, and I know that I have no worries that someone isn’t going to,” Mitchell said. “They are already great individuals, and I think they have learned from us a lot. I mean there’s 10 of us, so there’s a lot to learn from, but everyone has their own kind of leadership and their own niche on the team.”
Matt Cockayne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MattCockayne55.