Women’s soccer coach David Jones wants his team to play into the postseason. To do that, the Owls must shore up their defense.
Since opening the season with the Owl Eyes Classic, Temple has gone 1-5 with three straight shutout losses.
Last season the Owls finished 4-13-2 and a 2-5-2 record in the Atlantic Ten Conference. They opened this season on a similar note, losing to Maryland-Baltimore County and Drexel over the weekend 2-0 and 4-0, respectively.
All but two of the Owls’ starters against Drexel were either freshmen or sophomores as Jones looks to rebuild.
“We’re pleased with the kids we have coming back,” Jones said last month. “We’re going to be young. We’re going to make mistakes, but we think we have a good young nucleus that can make some noise in the A-10.”
Against Drexel, sophomore Tiffany Kasunich recorded four saves, but the Owls could not keep the Dragons from finding the back of the net.
Temple’s only regular season win came against Bucknell in the season opener.
The Owls were able to secure that shutout win by playing solid team defense behind sophomore sweeper Cori Gallagher.
The defense resisted a late surge from the Bison and took some of the pressure off senior goalkeeper Liz Tarasevich, who totaled 13 saves in the game.
Senior Trish Dalton, the Owls’ top defensive back, returns to solidify the defense. Kasunich, who gained the starting goalkeeper spot as a freshmen last season, is set to defend the goal with Tarasevich.
Not only will the Owls need a strong defense, posting strong offensive games is key in making the grade for the A-10 tournament in early November.
The Owls need to improve the offense, which notched only 21 goals in 19 games last season.
Against Drexel the Owls had eight corner kicks and a penalty kick, but couldn’t convert.
Still, true freshmen Natalie Mell and sophomore Wendy Halina are both ranked among the A-10 Top 10 in goals scored per game.
“[Mell] can be a very dominate midfielder
in the A-10,” Jones said. “She can score a lot of goals and help us get to another level.”
Mid-fielders Katrina Lynch and Jenna Rankin, both sophomores, have already played through rookie mistakes and will be called upon this season to help move the offense.
Temple will be tested in a season that only provides nine home games and a difficult midseason road trip.
Not only will the Owls be away from home for four straight games during that stretch, but they will also face three consecutive A-10 opponents.
The run includes taking on Charlotte in the Owls’ first conference match of the year, followed by Richmond and Saint Joseph’s.
The Owls don’t face current A-10 champion Saint Louis until late in the season, giving the team ample time to prepare for one of its toughest matches of the season.
The Billikens beat the Owls, 4-1, in their only meeting last season.
Danielle Milner can be reached at email@example.com.