Defending Atlantic 10 regular-season champ to visit Howarth Field

The Owls begin their season with a matchup against city rival St. Joseph’s.

Last season, the Owls opened their season with a game against the nationally ranked Syracuse University team.

Temple (7-12, 3-4 Big East Conference) opens the 2017 season against another tough opponent on Friday in the form of St. Joseph’s.

The Hawks (15-6, 8-0 Atlantic 10 Conference), who won their conference’s regular-season title and reached the conference title game, travel to Howarth Field for a 6 p.m. face-off against the Owls. St. Joseph’s 2016 regular-season title is its first since 1995.

Temple will be tasked with trying to keep Hawks junior forward Anna Willocks in check. She scored 25 goals, dished 12 assists and totaled 62 points last year on her way to becoming a second-team National Field Hockey Coaches Association All-American.

With two seasons remaining in her career, Willocks is already tied for the third-most goals in program history and ranks third in career points. Willocks helped a St. Joseph’s offense that ranked 24th in Division I in goals per game last season by scoring more than 40 percent of its goals.

Temple struggled on defense last season, as goalkeeper Maddie Lilliock ranked 14th in saves per game last season as a freshman. Opponents outshot Temple by nearly 100 in 2016 and outscored the Owls by nearly two goals.

The Owls return their leading scorer and one of their three co-captains, senior midfielder Rachael Mueller. She earned second-team honors in the Big East last season. They also return sophomore backer Becky Gerhart, who ranked third in Division I in defensive saves.

Temple has a 25-11 all-time record against the Hawks. The two teams faced each other at St. Joseph’s on Aug. 28, 2016, with the Hawks coming away with a 2-1 victory. Willocks scored the eventual game-winner late in the second half to break the Hawks’ six-game losing streak against Temple.

Evan Easterling

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