As time withered away, so did Temple’s postseason chances.
With Wednesday’s 9-7 loss to Villanova on the women’s lacrosse team’s senior day, the Owls has now lost four of their past five games, and is now sitting in sixth place at 1-4 in the Big East Conference.
The team is two games back of the three teams tied for third in the conference standings, including Villanova, Vanderbilt, and Connecticut. Since it does not own the tiebreaker advantage with any Big East team because of head-to-head defeats, Temple was mathematically eliminated from playoff contention Wednesday.
The Wildcats scored the first goal of the game less than four minutes in, but with 11 minutes, four seconds left in the half, more than 15 minutes after the first score, sophomore midfielder Morgan Glassford responded with a tally to tie the game. A minute and a half later, junior attacker Rachel Schwaab put another goal in the back of the net to make it 2-1.
The Wildcats ended the half on a 2-0 run, getting a second goal from Jackie Frocarro and another from Meghan Breen. Statistically, the first half was even, as both teams had the same number of draw controls and saves, and a similar number of shots.
Breen’s second goal of the game less than two minutes into the half started a 4-0 Villanova run that didn’t end until Schwaab’s second score with 19:02 left in regulation cut Temple’s deficit to four. After Breen added her third goal of the game a minute later, Temple unleashed a furious 4-1 game-ending run that fell just short.
The comeback included goals from Megan and Nicole Tiernan, sophomore midfielder Morgan Glassford, and junior attacker Avery Longstaff.
“We know that anything can happen,” junior captain defender Kara Stroup said. “We knew we could do it and we could have done it. It was right there, and until the end I thought we had it because even with seconds left you can still make something happen. But, unfortunately, time ran out on us.”
Ground balls were a big issue for Temple against the Wildcats. The Owls had 13 of them compared to Villanova’s 20, which limited the Owls’ scoring opportunities.
Coach Bonnie Rosen said the ground balls were a big reason for some of Villanova’s goals.
“The 50-50 balls off the draw controls and off the ground balls were huge,” Rosen said. “Even some of the time those balls were in our stick, we lost it, and they came up with it. They were really big momentum movements, and Villanova plays a very methodical offensive game that a lot of time off the clock, so every time we didn’t have possession that clock slipped away from us.”
“I think we have to go in twos and threes for ground balls,” Nicole Tiernan added. “We have to go at the 50-50 balls with each other. Oftentimes, they sent more people to ground balls then we did, and if there is a three versus one, they’re obviously going to get it.”
With the conference tournament now out of the question, and four seniors graduating, the Owls surrendered a lot in their last home game of the year.
“Next, we prepare for Cincinnati,” Rosen said. “We are playing to finish out the season as strong as can be. … Right now, I will take winning [our last two games] and getting better. We have [improved] this season and we also have to get better. This entire team returns pretty much for next year, but we’re playing as much for now as we are for the future.”
The Owls will look to get back on the winning track when they face the Bearcats in Cincinnati at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Matt Cockayne can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @mattcockayne55.