Sitting near the top of the field hockey team’s checklist for 2008 was a win against Saint Joseph’s on Nov. 1.
Last season, the Owls were bounced from the Atlantic Ten Conference Tournament by the Hawks 3-2, and as rivalries typically go, emotions were high.
Saturday, the Cherry and White brought their sticks and pencils to scribble out the Hawks, 2-1, on Senior Day.
“It was a great feeling to know that we were able to somewhat avenge last year’s loss,” coach Amanda Janney said. “That was a huge disappointment for us, and we’ve always gone back and forth with St. Joe’s, and they give us a little bit more trouble than I think they should.”
Prior to the game, seniors Liz Watto, Erin Hanshue, Jamie Adams and Mary Catherine Kinneman were honored for four years of memories.
“It was awesome,” goalkeeper Hanshue said. “[Senior Day is] the one game of your whole career that you’re probably going to remember most.”
Utilizing the energy of family and friends in attendance, forward Watto cracked a pair of goose eggs at the 13:05 mark in the first half. Her goal came on a rocket shot by junior midfielder Kristen Wanner, and it was deflected high and into the back of the net.
“It felt great,” Watto said. “I’ve been waiting five years for Senior Day, so it was extra nice to score a goal.”
The game remained close throughout the first half with each team trading pressure. Bodies were flying, sticks were loose and play was physical. Janney voiced her frustration with the Hawks’ style of play.
“I wish some of their girls could control their bodies a little bit more because I think they are out of control, and they are fouling us,” she said. “Our girls do a good job not to push and foul.”
In the second half, the Owls nearly lost their lead.
Hawks’ senior forward Marisa Pizzi hit sophomore forward Jen Wrublesky with a pass that left a one-on-one with Hanshue. The result was a game-making dive and stop that preserved a 1-0 cushion.
“I was thinking, ‘Oh crap,’” Hanshue said. “I was trying to fake her out, and hopefully she would go to my right side because that’s my strongest side. If she would have passed the ball right I knew I had a better shot at getting it.”
St. Joe’s had a three-on-one breakaway just a couple minutes later but squandered the opportunity amidst the moans and groans of the Hawks’ fans in the crowd.
With 5:15 left in regulation, junior forward Mandi Ruth raked home her sixth goal of the season, giving the Owls room to breathe.
A goal by Hawks’ sophomore forward Hannah Rogers would be a comeback effort too late in the making.
The win put the Owls at 8-11, but more importantly, 4-2 in the A-10, good enough to leapfrog the Hawks, who are 11-8 and 3-3.
“It’s really great to get this momentum,” Janney said. “We kind of said that before the game that we really needed a win.”
Temple will be the No. 3 seed to St. Joe’s No. 4 status in this weekend’s A-10 Tournament at Geasey Field. On Friday at 11 a.m., the Owls will take on No. 2 Richmond, a team seniors Hanshue, Watto, Adams and Kinneman have never beaten.
In the 2006 A-10 semifinals, the Spiders defied the Owls’ title bid, 2-1. The team has lost in the A-10 semifinals each of the last four years. But this year, the team has a different mindset.
“It’s a huge deal, and yeah — we do think this is the year,” Hanshue said. “Especially with the Phillies winning, the Philly curse is broken, so it’s our turn.”
Home turf advantage could propel the Owls to their first conference championship since 1994. And it would be the ultimate check mark for the seniors who have experienced their share of disappointing Novembers.
Anthony Stipa can be reached email@example.com.