With 10 goals, five assists and 25 points in eight games, it would be easy to think the Owls would be hurting without junior forward Amber Youtz.
Youtz has been sidelined with an injured right forearm, leaving the team without the 2012 Atlantic 10 Offensive Player of the Year and the athlete who is leading the nation in points per game with 3.13.
With Youtz out for at least another week, the rest of Temple’s forwards had to rise to the occasion.
They barely missed a beat. The Owls have gone 3-1 in the four games they have played without Youtz. They beat Big East Conference rival Rutgers 2-1 on Sept. 27 and shutout Sacred Heart 3-0 on Sept. 29 at Geasey Field, before losing a close one to another conference opponent in Louisville 2-1 on Oct. 4. Two days later, the Owls beat Bucknell 3-1.
As of right now, most of the team’s shooting has been spread out among freshman Katie Foran, sophomores Tricia Light and Alyssa Delp and senior Lauren Hunt.
“We’ve just been focusing a lot more on having a sustained attack and really trying to use everyone that is on the field,” Light said. “[Youtz] takes a lot of our shots for us, so we have had to spread the wealth and everyone has to take shots and take chances and put goals on the board.”
So far, Foran and Hunt have been doing just that. Foran scored both of Temple’s goals in the 2-1 win over Rutgers and added one more in the shutout of Sacred Heart, while Hunt tallied the latter two goals in the 3-0 Sacred Heart win.
Foran totaled three goals and an assist two weekends ago, with her solid play up front making her the third Owl this season to win Big East Offensive Player of the Week honors.
“It is a testament to our depth that we can still be winning without [Youtz],” Light said “[Foran] has really stepped up into that role of putting goals on the board for us and that’s the most important thing, especially with the freshmen, that she can do that for the team. That’s all we need right now, people putting goals on the board.”
“And I mean, [Foran] came off the bench this weekend and scored three goals for us,” Hunt added. “The fact that … we have depth, everyone can make an impact this year.”
To find this success, though, Temple couldn’t just run with the same game plan they usually use with Youtz. Some adjustments were made.
“We switched up things a little bit,” coach Amanda Janney said. “We switched some positionings and we were working around, trying to find people different positions, but we feel good after the Sacred Heart game. We thought the team was playing really well in the positions they were in.”
While the team has been getting by without Youtz, she is still a very important part of the squad. She is also extremely competitive, which makes it tough to stand by, but she’s handling the injury in stride.
“It says great things about our team, that we’re 24 deep and our team is very strong from the oldest to the youngest player,” Janney said. “We’re very proud of our team. Losing one player wasn’t a step back in terms of wins and losses. [Youtz] is a huge encourager for our team, she wants us to do well and she would love to be out there, but right now she is doing a great job to help motivate and be a leader to the younger players, and our team is doing a great job to find other people to step up.”
“She’s a competitive athlete,” Janney added. “Every good athlete wants to be on the field and it’s something that non-starters have to deal with just like the other 13 people on the bench. They don’t want to be there, but they’re working hard in practice every day and [Youtz], she’s handling it with a lot of poise.”
Youtz was on the sidelines for Sunday’s game against Bucknell and while she is anxious to get back on the field, she is getting the chance to look at the game from a different perspective.
“It’s definitely a challenge sitting out, to be honest, but it’s teaching me to support my teammates and get more on the coaching end of it,” Youtz said.
“I’m just so proud that they did step up,” Youtz added. “Honestly, that is what we needed. We needed that spark from somebody else. I was a part of most of the attack and to know that I have people when I come back that are going to be able to support me just as much, that just grew our team 10 times more.”
Nick Tricome can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @itssnick215.