Sophomore goalkeeper Jordan Nash expected to be put on ice as a freshman.
But that only lasted through four games during her freshman year, when then-senior goalkeeper Shauni Kerkhoff’s leg got tangled around a University of Pennsylvania defender’s foot, which broke Kerkhoff’s leg and ended her senior year on the team.
“Shauni was always the type of player to get right back up, so it was a little nerve-wracking for us because we’ve played in front of her for four years to now having an inexperienced freshman goalkeeper stepping in,” said assistant coach Paula Jurewicz, who played for the Owls from 2012-15. “But we weren’t really too worried about it because we’d seen what Jordan could do at practice. We were confident in our back-up option.”
Kerkhoff became the starting goalkeeper for the Owls during her freshman year in 2012 and ended her career with 56 total starts in net. She is Temple’s all-time leader in goals against average, save percentage and career shutouts.
Before ending her season against the Quakers on Sept. 4, 2015, Kerkhoff had seven saves and left the team undefeated until losing to Penn later that evening.
Nash said she was nervous entering the game 22 minutes, 44 seconds into the first half against the Quakers, but senior leaders like Erin Lafferty, Jurewicz and Kerkhoff helped her step into the starting lineup.
“[Kerkhoff] would just help me on the field and off the field with whatever I needed, and she was always there,” Nash said.
She added Kerkhoff was a second pair of eyes on the sideline and helped her grow as a goalkeeper during her freshman year.
Coach Seamus O’Connor said Nash played well in the loss to the Quakers.
In the following game against Lehigh University though, Nash didn’t record a single save throughout the game and let in the game-winning goal in overtime. Nash was very hard on herself after the game, O’Connor said.
Nash told O’Connor she was overthinking the game, and it weighed on her mind heavily during her first start, so O’Connor had a discussion with the young goalkeeper at the team’s barbecue after the game.
“Don’t overthink it, don’t doubt yourself, don’t judge yourself, just do what you can do and this is why we put you out there,” O’Connor said he told Nash after the Lehigh game. “We have complete faith in you. We completely believe in you, we know you’re capable of doing this. It was just a matter of time before you became the starting goalie, so just do your thing.”
Nash responded by leading the Owls on a four-game winning streak, including two shutout wins.
It took a few games for Nash to get comfortable in net, but once she did, Jurewicz said she was one of the best goalies with whom she’s played.
“She just comes up with big saves, always communicating with us, giving us good feedback, being positive but also giving good constructive criticism,” Jurewicz said.
Nash finished her freshman year with 15 starts, 70 saves and a 1.02 goals against average, which ranks second best in a single season in Owls history.
The Owls lost nine seniors and have the most freshmen on the team since the 2013 season. Nash’s experience last year as a starter has helped her become a leader on this year’s young team.
On top of that, the Owls have suffered injuries, which has forced O’Connor to change his formation and shuffle his lineup in nearly every game they have played this season. Freshmen K.J. Waghorne, Morgan Morocco and Fran Davis are still nursing injuries this season.
O’Connor said the lineup changes are one of the reasons why the Owls haven’t been consistent this season.
“She’s done a lot better job of taking a lot more responsibility for organizing not just her position, but all of the players on defensive set plays,” O’Connor said.
While the Owls are 3-9 on the year, Nash is putting up career numbers.
In Thursday’s 1-0 loss against Memphis, she put up a career-high 17 saves. She also leads the American Athletic Conference with 72 saves on the season.
“She’s been a good leader. She’s someone we look at as a potential captain in the future,” O’Connor said. “Instead of looking at what’s going wrong, she’s been trying to focus on, ‘OK, what do we have to do to make it right?’ So she’s got a very positive attitude. And I’ve seen that leadership off the field come and shine through. That’s something that’s been impressive.”
Tom Ignudo can be reached at email@example.com.