In her first three years at Temple, senior forward Katie Briglia never had to be a vocal leader.
“I’m not really a huge talker,” Briglia said. “I’ve had to step up into the roles that I was comfortable being second to.”
This year though, the field hockey team’s captain is the lone senior on the roster.
“The biggest challenge for me was branching out to my teammates,” Briglia said. “I always knew these guys were my teammates, but getting to know them on a more personal level because I was always closer with the classes ahead of me.”
The Phoenixville, Pa., native brings a wealth of experience. Briglia has played in 75 games for Temple, and started 57 of those games.
Coach Amanda Janney said during the past year, Briglia has grown into a great leader.
“Last year Bridget Settles was a very vocal leader so [Briglia] didn’t really have to step up and direct,” Janney said. “We’ve seen a huge difference in [Briglia] this year that she has risen to the challenge and really become the vocal leader that we needed.”
But Briglia isn’t the prototypical player for the Owls. She has started in every position except goalkeeper during her time at Temple.
“Wherever I put [Briglia] on the field, she does a great job,” Janney said. “I told [Briglia] that I wish I had three of her so I could make her a forward, a midfielder and a back.”
Sophomore forward Amber Youtz said having Briglia know each position gives each player a little more confidence. Youtz leads the team with 15 goals, and Briglia leads the team with eight assists.
“It makes us more confident with each other knowing that [Briglia] will have your back on any part of the line, and you can look to her for support and she’ll know how to direct everyone since she has played all of those positions,” Youtz said.
Along with experience with each position, Briglia brings a hardworking mentality to the team.
Junior defender Molly Doyle is a co-captain with Briglia, and she said Briglia’s tough style of play is reflected in her leadership.
“[Briglia] is a tough leader and she’s really smart,” Doyle said. “She’s relentless on the field, and I’ve never seen someone play as relentlessly as she does.”
Briglia’s high motor is something that Janney said raises the entire team’s level of play.
“[Briglia] brings a high level of intensity and a feistiness to the team,” Janney said. “When I challenge them to work harder at practice [Briglia] is one of the first ones to not just run faster, but it’s her hustle all over the place and she always plays her hardest.”
Youtz said Briglia’s hard work in practice rubs off on the team.
“[Briglia] is a leader by example, whenever she is up the rest of the team is up,” Youtz said. “She’s really good to follow after and do what she’s doing.”
But Briglia’s hard work and hustle isn’t something new. Doyle said from the time Briglia was a freshman she has dedicated herself to getting better.
“[Briglia] put herself in a good position from the start to get good playing time,” Doyle said. “I wasn’t here for [Briglia’s] freshman year, but I know she passed all the running tests and she came in really prepared and ready to play.”
As the Owls work toward having a winning record, both Briglia and Doyle have found a way to make the young team work together.
Both of the captains said they try to work off each other.
“I’m more vocal on the field and [Briglia] is more vocal off the field,” Doyle said. “[Briglia] is normally the one that will address the team in certain situations, but we’re both pretty even vocally.”
Doyle also said Briglia is more approachable than the captains before her.
“I think she has more of a connection with the team, not that our captains last year didn’t but I wouldn’t definitely say she is more approachable.”
With Atlantic 10 Conference play under way, Janney said Briglia’s experience is key to helping the young players on the team.
“As the pressure hits and every game is a must win, some freshmen aren’t always able to handle that pressure,” Janney said. “[Briglia], with her experience and her confidence, should be able to lead us to some wins.”
For the season, Briglia said that she hopes the team can find success in the A-10.
“I would love to win the A-10’s and go beyond that, but for right now just making a huge name for ourselves, the A-10 season would mean everything to me,” Briglia said. “My past years have been some of the best years, but we always fall short.”
Currently, the Owls are sitting atop the A-10 with a 1-0 in conference record and an 8-6 record overall.
The team has found offensive production from multiple players. Freshman forward Alyssa Delp has eight goals, and junior forward Lauren Hunt and sophomore midfielder Nicole Kroener both have six goals.
This is a new look for the field hockey team, with last year only having one player with more than five goals.
Temple will be looking for Briglia to lead this young team to Amherst, Mass., where the A-10 Championship will be held.
“On and off the field, [Briglia] is a great leader and we wouldn’t be doing nearly as well as we are this year without her,” Doyle said. “I think there is something to be said about her leadership that no one on our team has gotten into any trouble this year, and I think that everyone really respects the team rules and knows their role on the team because of [Briglia] and her leadership.”
Colin Tansits can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @colin_tansits.