Temple struggles offensively in season opener

St. Joseph’s outshot Temple by 13 in its 4-1 win on Friday at Howarth Field.

Then junior forward Hattie Kuhns dribbles past an opposing midfielder in the Owls’ 8-1 loss to Connecticut during the Big East Conference Tournament semifinal at Howarth Field, Nov. 4, 2016. Kuhns had one shot on goal on Friday against Old Dominion University. | JAMIE COTTRELL / TTN FILE PHOTO

With the opening game nearly out of reach and time winding down in the final half, senior midfielder Rachael Mueller streaked down the left sideline at Howarth Field toward the opposing goal draped by a Saint Joseph’s defender.

Mueller became open as she beat her defender, but a late pass from her teammate forced a turnover and ended a promising offensive push.

“I think any team or anyone will have frustration when you’re losing,” Mueller said after Temple’s 4-1 loss. “We had a set plan going into this. We knew what to expect though, and we weren’t playing to our best ability.”

Frustration was a common theme during the Owls’ season opener against Saint Joseph’s.

Temple attempted a shot within the first five minutes of the game and had opportunities at the 21-minute, 18-second and 21:56 marks. Temple struggled to muster consistent offensive pressure against the Hawks, who were ranked second in the Atlantic 10 Conference preseason poll. Temple had eight shots compared to St. Joseph’s 21.

“We’re trying to do too much when we have it,” coach Marybeth Freeman said. “I just think that we’re just doing too much dribbling right now, we’re taking on too many defenders.”

“It’s hard because I think at times you want the perfect shot, and we just need something to go in the goal,” she added. “Though I appreciate their wanting to have that attention to detail, we don’t necessarily need finesse. We need scrappy.”

With a 2-0 deficit at halftime, the Owls tried to adjust to the Hawks’ stifling defense by attacking the outside of the field. The team knew entering the game that St. Joseph’s likes to the defend the middle of the field, Mueller said.

The new strategy didn’t yield many opportunities. Temple registered only four shots on goal versus the Hawks’ 11, and the Owls were out-numbered on penalty corners 11 to six.

“We just need to be able to pass the ball a bit sooner, connect with our teammates a bit more inside the [50-yard line] and really just play more simple hockey,” Freeman said.

The lack of a team-focused attack, Freeman said, resulted in the Owls’ poor offensive play.

“I think we’ll get there, and this was a really good game for us to see that we have some work to do,” Freeman said.

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