In need of a crucial bounce-back-win to begin conference play, Temple Lacrosse could not overcome James Madison’s suffocating zone defense and failed to get anything going offensively in the first three quarters.
The Owls (5-5, 0-1 The American Athletic Conference) fell to No. 5 James Madison (10-1, 2-0 AAC) 10-8 Saturday afternoon at Howarth Field. Despite outscoring JMU 5-0 in the fourth quarter, it was not enough for the Owls to overcome the 7-1 hole they found themselves in at halftime.
“I think the biggest thing was that we weren’t communicating the most that we could,” said midfielder Belle Mastropietro. “There were times when we had one slide and the second slide wasn’t there, but I think we figured it out later.”
With the loss, the Owls now fall to 0-8 in the last two seasons against top-25 opponents in the country and 0-4 this season.
The Dukes’ success can be attributed to their off-ball movement on offense which made it difficult for the Owls on the defensive end. JMU attacker Tai Jankowski took advantage of Temple’s miscues and had a game-high four goals.
“She’s a really nice player, she’s a threat at all times,” said Temple head coach Bonnie Rosen. “Some of her goals early on were because we were sliding as a team on defense, and she ended up being the one that got to finish, and if you leave a player like her as the finisher, she is going to make sure she finishes. So she’s really just a threat in everything that she does.”
While Jankoski was important for the Dukes’ offense, goaltender Kat Buchanan made key saves throughout the contest to help slow the Owls’ momentum and fourth-quarter comeback attempt.
Buchanan finished the contest with nine saves thanks to her aggressive playstyle, coming out of the net quickly to close off shooting lanes.
“She’s a very good goalkeeper,” Rosen said. “A little bit of our scout on her was to shoot more low shots than high ones, and I think our players were not seeing the cage as well looking low.”
In the fourth quarter, the Owls battled back, scoring five unanswered goals with each coming from a different scorer. The scores cut the Dukes’ lead to two with four minutes and 33 seconds remaining.
In the fourth quarter, the Owls played a clean and aggressive offense, dominating nearly all of the possession time while finding good passing and shooting lanes to gain momentum.
“I think we did a really good job of swinging the ball,” said midfielder Camryn Zavacky. “I think swinging the ball was really important. When we were swinging the ball we were drawing doubles, which allowed us to attack from the backside.”
Unfortunately for the Owls, it was too late as there was not enough time for them to complete the comeback.
Up next, the Owls will look to snap their three-game losing streak when they travel to Cincinnati to take on the Bearcats (8-4, 1-1 AAC) on April 1 at 12 p.m.