Senior defender Maddie McTigue has not forgotten how her season ended two years ago.
In the 2014 season finale, Rutgers University defeated the Owls by one goal, ending the team’s chance to make the Big East Tournament.
In the team’s last two meetings, the Owls have defeated the Scarlet Knights, including Wednesday’s 16-9 victory at Geasey Field.
“It’s a huge rivalry between Temple and Rutgers, so it’s always a pride game,” McTigue said. “I think that taking a seven goal difference, I think that really proved to a lot of us on our team that we can do anything this year.”
The Owls followed Wednesday’s win with a 16-4 victory against St. Joseph’s, increasing their winning streak to seven games following their season opening loss against the University of Louisville, then ranked No. 16 in the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches’ Association poll.
Temple finished the first half Saturday with an 11-1 lead. The Owls are outscoring opponents 62-30 in the first half this season.
“I think it’s definitely always a goal of ours to get the first draw, have the first possession and get the first goal and kind of get ourselves set and comfortable and get out the nerves in the beginning of the game,” senior midfielder Kirstie Connor said. “I think whenever we start out with the first goal, that really helps us settle into the game.”
The Owls retained much of their roster from 2015, losing four seniors. With much of the same personnel, Temple has changed its offense style.
Through eight games, the Owls have 47 assists, eight more than they did all of last season. The team also ranks No. 7 in Division I in scoring, averaging 14.38 goals per game.
McTigue said practicing against the offense has helped the team’s defensive unit rank No. 4 in scoring defense this season.
“I think that we’ve seen strong one-v-oneing offense,” McTigue said. “We’ve seen a lot of cutting offenses. And I think we’ve done a lot better at that because we’re better with the diversity, because in past years our offense that we have has been a very strong one-v-one, but we’ve had a lot of assists … I think as a defense in practicing against our offense every day, it has made our defense so much better able to play against a lot of different attacks.”
Several players have taken on bigger roles this season. Senior attacker Rachel Schwaab, who played in all 16 games in 2015 and started the last five, is two points away from tying her career-high of 33, set her freshman campaign.
Connor, who also played in all 16 games and started the last five, has scored 14 goals in eight games, five more than her 2015 total.
Senior midfielder Megan Tiernan, who started all 16 games last season, is two goals away from matching her 19 goals in 2015.
“We certainly are reaping the benefits of three-and-a-half years of work from our seniors,” coach Bonnie Rosen said. “They’ve all been working hard and it’s finally paying off. Their skill sets have gotten better. Their confidence has gotten better. Their understanding of the game has gotten better. And now put that together with the chemistry, and we’re playing really well on game day.”
Evan Easterling can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Evan_Easterling.