Lizzy Millen wasn’t happy.
A shot had just slipped through her pads, and although the ball didn’t have enough momentum to roll in on its own, Villanova senior midfielder Lauren Wilson was there to finish the play and cut Temple’s lead to one in the 47th minute.
As the team huddled around its redshirt-senior goalkeeper following the whistle, the frustration was evident by the look on her face when she lifted her mask. The No. 15 Owls won Friday’s Big East contest 6-3 against a struggling Villanova team, improving to 9-4 overall and 2-0 in the conference.
But it was far from Temple’s smoothest performance.
“We weren’t playing like ourselves,” Millen, who made four saves on Friday, said. “I’m all for taking risks, but they weren’t exactly the most calculated risks that we were taking. I was getting pretty frustrated with that, and I let them know about it.”
“She just told us she knew we were a better team than what we were showing,” junior defender Sarah Deck said. “We were forcing passes a little bit too much, so when a senior captain says that it really makes you stop and think and re-evaluate yourself.”
Temple responded less than a minute later, moving quickly up into the offensive end and drawing a penalty corner. Taking in a pass from sophomore midfielder Paige Gross, Deck took a shot from the top left of the circle that found its way to the back of the net and gave the Owls a 3-1 lead.
Junior forward/midfielder Alyssa Delp made it 4-1 in the 52nd minute, firing a shot from 10 yards out on a pass from Deck toward the left side of the cage.
Then senior forward Amber Youtz, after recording the only goal of the first half on a direct corner and the second of the game on an unassisted drive in from the right side, completed her sixth career hat-trick on a high shot that freshman goalkeeper Jordyn Clipstone was only able to get a piece of with her stick.
With just over 14 minutes remaining, and what looked to be a secure 5-1 lead, Millen was swapped out for junior goalkeeper Haley Mitchell.
Villanova was able to come up with a couple of quick goals in the two minutes following the substitution.
Junior forward Heather Smillie put in a shot that deflected over Mitchell’s stick seven seconds into the goalkeepers shift. Then Wilson came up with her second of the day when she put home a loose rebound during a scramble in front on the initial shot.
“Later in the game we got a little sloppy,” coach Amanda Janney said. “Villanova took advantage. They’re a hard hitting team, and they did a great job to get pressure from their attack.”
“You play sloppy for a second and the other big East teams take advantage of it,” Janney added.
The Wildcats had suddenly cut a four-goal Temple lead down to two with over 12 minutes still to play. Villanova came up with a couple of penalty corners in the final ten minutes, but Mitchell made one of her two saves on the first shot, and the second was blocked in front.
Temple drew its 11th corner of the game with no time remaining. The play was allowed, even as the horn sounded, and ended with Youtz tallying her fourth of the day off a rebound. It was the second four-goal performance of her career. The first came last year against Monmouth in a 6-0 win back on Sept. 14.
Despite a win where the Owls outshot their opponent 30-11 (18-9 in shots on goal), defensive breakdowns and a few extra missed opportunities had the team wishing for a bit more.
“We’re a team where it’s never enough,” Youtz said. “Yeah, we won, and it’s great, and we need to stay positive and we’re glad that it’s such a big win over a Big East team. But in our heads we always want to do better.”
For Millen, how the team handles itself from here on out is crucial.
“I feel like, we’re in the middle of the season, fatigue is starting to set in,” Millen said. “We’re all in the thick of classes and all of that, and I think we’re just hitting a wall at the moment. It happens, like every season. It’s either you push past it or you’re defeated by it, so I’ll be interested to see who comes out against La Salle.”
La Salle (6-5) will visit Geasey Field Sunday at noon.
There were six goals scored in a span of less than ten minutes in the second half, starting with Wilson’s first in the 47th minute, then ending with her second in the 57th … Friday’s game was dedicated to the National Foundation for Cancer Research’s Play 4 The Cure, with the teams honoring those who fought or continue to fight against breast cancer.
Nick Tricome can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @itssnick215.