In Temple’s season opener against the University of Maryland on Friday afternoon at Geasey Field, its offense sputtered.
The No. 3 ranked team in Division I held the Owls to two shots on goal, while producing 12 of its own, en route to a 4-2 win.
“I think we want to get more opportunities on goal, but we didn’t get as many chances in the circle,” senior forward Tricia Light said. “We need to get those entries, get into the circle, and just get those shots on cage. That’s something we need to work on moving forward. We did have some opportunities, but we need to capitalize on them.”
The Terrapins scored their first goal 12 minutes into the game on a shot from Linnea Gonzales, in which she drove past two Owl players into the circle, firing a clean shot into the back of the net. Maryland scored again with 9:27 left in the first half on a transition three-on-two attack that ended in a Welma Luus tally.
Coach Marybeth Freeman, who won three National Championships as an assistant coach in seven seasons at Maryland, said the Terrapins’ transition opportunities as a main problem for her team on defense in the first half, attributing it to a balance issue in the midfield.
“They did a really good job of utilizing the space and pulling their girls outside,” Freeman said. “We got caught chasing girls sometimes, and that really left us vulnerable in the middle, but I do think we fixed that in the second half. We were able to get more front field opportunities to get into the circle. So we did make those adjustments, but that is where I think they did a good job of capitalizing.”
Four minutes and 20 seconds after Maryland went up by two scores, Light found the back of the net for the Owls on a rebound pass from junior forward Katie Foran off a penalty corner.
“It was a set piece on one of our corners,” Light said. “I kind of knew the ball was going to be on cage. That’s the goal of our strikers, to get it on cage. It kind of got loose in there, and at that point you just have to go for the ball, swing at it, and hope that it goes in. It did today.”
The second half started a lot like the first, as Maryland scored twice within the first 12 minutes, both on penalty corners. Gonzales put her second goal of the game past senior goalkeeper Haley Mitchell five minutes into the half. Anna Dessoye scored the final Maryland goal with 23:45 left in regulation.
Maryland was able to produce eight penalty corners in the game, five in the second half, compared to Temple’s total of five. After the game, senior backer Taylor Shronk harped on limiting opponents’ penalty corner opportunities in the future.
“We need to have good, tight defense to begin with and try to avoid giving up any penalty corners,” Shronk said. “We need to keep our bodies low and our sticks ready, so we can avoid that. If they do happen, we just have to stay as a unit, keep tight, and prepare for any rebounds, so we can get to the ball and get it out fast.”
Despite Temple’s poor offensive production in terms of shots on goal, Freeman noted her team’s impressive goal percentage as a bright spot.
“We only had two shots on goal, but we had two goals. That’s 100 percent,” Freeman said. “That’s the percentages I’m talking about. We need to get in there more, but when we’re in there we’re getting something.”
The Owls will look to get back on track when they travel to College Park, Maryland on Sunday to play Towson University at noon.
Matt Cockayne can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @mattcockayne55.