After a loss to La Salle last Friday put Temple in a win-and-get-in situation, the Owls claimed the final and fourth seed in the A-10 Tournament Sunday.
The Temple lacrosse team is back in the Atlantic Ten Tournament following an 11-6 victory against rival Saint Joseph’s last Sunday. The Owls (7-7 overall, 4-3 A-10) failed to make the A-10 Tournament a season ago but return as the fourth seed in this weekend’s tournament. They will face top-seeded Richmond.
The Owls entered the day knowing that they needed a win to advance into the conference tournament following a 13-11 overtime loss to La Salle last Friday. They rebounded last Sunday with a great defensive effort against St. Joe’s. The Owls limited the Hawks to just two goals in the first half, and the defense shut down the passing lanes all afternoon. Coach Bonnie Rosen said she was thrilled with the team’s performance because Temple implemented a new defensive scheme just for the game against the Hawks.
“It really was the best defensive effort we’ve had all year,” Rosen said. “This was exactly the game we needed, the way we rebounded mentally from our game on Friday and to come out and play such a well-executed game. It really was a full team effort.”
The Owls jumped out to an early 2-0 lead against St. Joe’s thanks to two goals in less than a minute from senior attacker Chelsea Rosiek and freshman midfielder Stephany Parcell. Following the Hawks’ first goal with 16 minutes, 42 seconds remaining in the first half, Parcell scored her second goal, and sophomore midfielders Stephanie Markunas and Allison McWilliams added a goal each to stretch the Owls’ lead to 5-1.
The defense held the Hawks scoreless for more than 13 minutes until the Hawks sophomore midfielder Grace Dinn scored her second goal of the half to bring the score to 5-2. With 22 seconds remaining in the half, the Owls forced a turnover, which led to a break for senior defender and co-captain Tracy Zimmer. Zimmer ran down the right wing, found Rosiek for a quick give-and-go and then scored her first goal of the season with eight seconds remaining in the half. The goal was only the second of her career.
“Our transition was really working coming out of the defense,” Zimmer said. “We were catching them on their heels, so it was nice to be able to get down there and help out on the attack.”
The second half opened with a goal a piece until freshman midfielder Kellee Pace scored two straight to stretch the Owls’ lead to 9-3. The Owls’ defense continued to lock down the Hawks until St. Joe’s sophomore midfielders Jen Peters and Alana Glanell scored two goals to bring the game to 9-5.
Rosiek took charge in the next 24 seconds. She assisted on a goal by sophomore midfielder Kelsey Zenuk and then scored her second goal of the game. Rosiek finished with two goals and three assists in the game. She had a phenomenal week, scoring seven goals and adding six assists as the Owls pursued a spot in the A-10 Tournament.
The win was extra special for the Owls because they hosted Lily Adkins and her family. Lily is the team’s soon-to-be adopted sister through the Friends of Jaclyn organization. Lily will be the team’s second adopted child, as the Owls lost Devon Lam to a brain tumor in December 2008.
“I don’t think you can underestimate the impact of it being Lily’s day on this team,” Rosen said. “It was extremely motivational.”
The last time the Owls made the A-10 Tournament, they finished as the A-10 Champion. Temple will square off against Richmond this Friday in the semifinals in Pittsburgh, Pa., at Duquesne University. Richmond escaped with a 15-14 win against the Owls on March 26. Richmond (9-8 overall, 6-1 A-10) finished as the regular-season champion following a Massachusetts loss against La Salle last Sunday. UMass and La Salle will battle again this Friday in the other semifinal matchup.
“I think everyone is still looking a little past us,” Rosen said. “It’s never easy to beat a team twice, and we look forward to being that team that gets to upset them.”
The season has had its ups and downs, but the Owls have achieved one of their preseason goals by reaching the A-10 Tournament. Rosen said she hopes the win against the Hawks will propel the Owls going forward.
“I think it means everything. We were really feeling the pressure. We were a team learning how to believe in ourselves,” Rosen said. “Being able to win the deciding game is a championship in itself, so now we’re ready to play a championship tournament.”
Joe Serpico can be reached at email@example.com.