The Owls are getting used to falling behind.
While the women’s lacrosse team has notched comeback victories in each of its first three games, slow starts have been an early pattern for the squad.
In three of their four games of the 2015 season, the Owls have found themselves down 2-0 within the first 10 minutes.
Before the team’s 9-7 win at La Salle last Wednesday, coach Bonnie Rosen talked about the importance of winning draw controls early and opening games more physically.
“[It’s] coming up with an early draw control, but not converting,” Rosen said of the sluggish starts. “It starts with the draw control and possession opportunities. I think the slow starts have been a little tentative physically, which is really a mental piece. It’s just trying to come off our warm-up a little bit better. … Hopefully, we’re just a little more mentally ready to go at [game] speed from the beginning.”
Yet, these early struggles didn’t keep Temple from starting the season with a three-game winning streak. The Owls have shown their grittiness and resolve, edging both the University of Maryland-Baltimore County and St. Joseph’s in overtime in the season’s opening week, and outplaying La Salle in the second half of last Wednesday’s contest, holding the Explorers scoreless for the last 20 minutes.
Senior defender Carli Fitzgerald talked about how leadership and experience have played a huge role in the team’s late-game heroics.
“From the beginning [of the game] to the end, we gain a lot of confidence and start talking more,” Fitzgerald said. “I think in the beginning [of games] it’s a little shaky, just because it’s the beginning of the season, and then we get more comfortable with ourselves [as leaders]. Leadership starts to show and we are able to succeed in the end.”
With the Owls retaining 23 of last year’s 29 players – losing four seniors to graduation, one player to injury, and another by transfer – the Owls bring back extensive experience.
Rosen mentioned the experience being helpful in the late game wins, but emphasized the team’s “in the moment” mindset as a critical factor.
“I definitely [think] the leadership has paid off,” Rosen said. “But overall our players have stayed in the moment and that’s something we have been working on. I have been really impressed with their mindset heading into the end of games. They don’t seem to get very caught up in what’s going to happen next.”
Freshmen Stepping Up
Rosen said she expected many offensive players to be involved this year, but the contributions of two freshmen has been a pleasant surprise for the ninth-year Temple coach.
Through the Owls’ first three games, attacker Nicole Barretta, who is tied for second on the team with six goals, has turned into an offensive weapon that teams need to mark at all times.
Meanwhile, midfielder Haile Houck has scored a pair of goals and has secured five draw controls.
“We’re really fortunate right now that we’ve got a lot of people that can contribute and it’s really neat to see freshmen having a chance to make their mark,” Rosen said. “Both of them have kind of stepped in to play a role. … It’s really impressive as freshmen to step right in and I think it says as much about them as it says about our team.”
Regardless of age, Rosen is looking to play a lot of players this year, especially attackers. This bodes well for freshmen trying to get into games in the future.
“I know all of us freshmen just go to practice with the will to work hard every single day and we all put in 100 percent,” Houck said. “All six of us are just trying to push each other and make each other better every single day.”
While many students will be going home or on vacation for spring break, the team will be traveling to New York after Saturday’s game at home against Lafayette College to start a four-game road trip.
The Owls will face Wagner and Iona during the break.
Matt Cockayne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @mattcockayne55.