The field hockey team’s offense exploded for nine points this weekend, but in the end, it was the defense that had coach Amanda Janney most impressed.
The Owls opened the weekend beating Monmouth, 6-1, Saturday on the road and then topped Fairfield, 3-0, at Geasey Field Sunday.
“Having a shutout is such a big goal for us and it doesn’t happen that often,” Janney said. “So for us to have shutout in the middle of the season like this is a sign that we are progressing because we haven’t been able to shut out many teams at the beginning of the season.”
The Owls, who are 2-2 in their last four games, improved to 5-3 overall to get back on track after dropping two straight before the weekend.
From the start, Temple had the Stags right where it wanted them. The Owls opened the first half with a corner and though they did not score, reeling off a couple goals was only a matter of time with the way the offense was playing.
Temple was playing faster and passing crisper.
At 22:12, the Owls took a corner shot, but missed. Temple came up with the rebound and scored, but the goal was taken away because the shot hit off a player’s foot.
Temple would prevail, though.
Minutes after the goal was taken away, the Stags worked their way down the field. But the Temple defense haulted their scoring aspirations and got the ball to junior midfielder
Vogelsong maneuvered through the Fairfield defense and between defenders before she slap-shot the ball into the Stags’ cage with 20:59 left in the first half.
Fairfield did not get into Temple territory until the 16:30 mark in the first half and did not get off a shot in the first half. Owls goalie Erin Hanshue was well rested heading into the second half, with no one challenging her at all.
With 12:20 left in the first half, team captain Alli Lokey saw freshman Mandi Ruth hiding behind Fairfield goalie Elizabeth Thomas.
“Number nine, number nine,” Fairfield coach Jackie Kane screamed, trying to get her players aware of Ruth’s presence.
She was too late.
Lokey passed the ball over in Ruth’s direction and the damage was done. Ruth’s fourth goal of the season put the Owls ahead, 2-0.
“We just played our hockey,” Lokey said. “We played Temple hockey. We knew we should beat this team and we did.”
Temple entered the second half and did not look back. The spirit that Fairfield displayed coming into the game had evaporated like water left in the hot sun.
A few Fairfield players were heard yelling “go red,” but many looked overwhelmed by the score, perhaps because they knew the game was out of reach if Temple came out and emulated their first half play.
“Our whole team just did well,” Janney said.
About fifteen minutes into the second half, Temple was still dominating on defense. They stopped Fairfield from creating any kind of set offense.
With 20:04 left in the second, Owls’ forward Liz Watto had possession of the ball and set up midfielder Kasey Ruth, the twin sister of Mandi Ruth, to ice the game as Temple took a 3-0 lead.
Temple called a timeout with 13:38 left in the game, an opportuntity which Kane used to try and get her team to pull out a shocking win.
She ordered the Stags to take “one shot every two minutes,” but her team only managed one in the final 10 minutes.
“They are just strong athletes,” Kane said referring to Temple.
“We were in the right places. We just didn’t have the strength on the ball.”
“Our defense was just solid,” Lokey said. “To play our game is definitely a big thing for us this year and not worry about other teams.”
The Owls offense should not go unnoticed, either. Temple scored nine goals in their last two games.
When asked if the offense is clicking, Janney replied, “Yeah, and it’s different people, too. The whole team is kind of meshing together, where no matter who we put up front we’re scoring goals.”
Jabari Young can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.