As the goals piled up, Temple’s hopes of beating the University of Florida in its Big East Conference opener faded.
The 17-3 game was Temple’s first loss in five weeks against the No. 8 team in the nation.
“I think it was the hardest team we have played so far,” Nicole Tiernan said after the game. “They have a pretty big reputation, and we knew they were going to be good coming into the game. I think the score itself says they are a good team, but I think we could have played better than we did. We should have definitely played better than we did.”
Florida first found the back of the net on one of Devon Schneider’s three goals with 27 minutes, 32 seconds left in the first half, followed by a Megan Tiernan score exactly two minutes later to tie the score. For the next 17 minutes, the Gators went on a 4-0 run that put them up 5-1, getting goals from Schneider and star midfielder Shannon Gilroy.
A Megan Pinkerton goal with 55 seconds left in the first half cut the Gators lead to three, but Gilroy responded with two more goals, one coming with eight seconds before the break to push Temple’s deficit back to four.
“I think [Florida] has a tremendous amount of talent on the field,” ninth-year head coach Bonnie Rosen said. “Right now they seem to be able to count on Shannon Gilroy to set the tone offensively.”
In the first half alone, the Owls were outshot 22-6, a big reason the Gators were able to jump out to an early lead. It didn’t change in the second half.
Florida scored just over a minute into the start of the second half, but Temple quickly responded with junior attacker Kathryn Skahan’s 11th goal of the year two minutes later.
With the Gators leading 8-3 and 25 minutes left in the game, everything spiraled out of control for the Owls. Florida went on a 9-0 run to end the game, capitalizing on Temple miscues for most of their goals.
“Mistakes on our end gave them a lot of easy goals,” junior captain defender Maddie McTigue said. “We had a hard time adjusting to their cutters and their one v. one matchups. We had trouble connecting and playing together today.”
Along with the 14 turnovers the Owls had on Saturday, they only controlled four ground balls to Florida’s 18, which gave the Gators second and third chances to capitalize on their possessions. These extra opportunities showed on the stat sheet, as Temple was outshot 40-14 for the whole game.
McTigue is still confident that if the two teams meet in the Big East playoffs, the Owls have a chance.
“We are definitely confident that we can play with them,” she said. “I think that there are a lot of things we need to work on. They are a really good team and it was a really good test for us right now in our season. The loss brings us back and makes us rethink what we have to work on.”
Temple (8-2) will continue conference play next Saturday when they travel to Nashville, Tennessee to play Vanderbilt (3-8).