Women’s soccer team works to replace scoring production

Three of the top five scorers in 2017, including leading scorer Gabriella McKeown, will graduate.

Junior forward Kerri McGinley battles with Mount St. Mary’s University freshman forward Amanda Britain during the Owls’ 2-0 win on Sept. 3, 2017 at the Temple Sports Complex. | JAY NEEMEYER / FILE PHOTO

The Owls will lose three of their top five goal scorers entering the 2018 season.

Senior forward Gabriella McKeown, senior midfielder Elana Falcone and graduate forward Morgan Glassford combined for 12 of the Owls’ 25 goals last season. McKeown led the team in scoring for the second consecutive year, capping off an 11-goal college career with a five-goal senior season.

Coach Seamus O’Connor sees the upcoming season as a chance to spread the scoring opportunities around.

“I really like what I’ve seen out of this group so far this spring,” O’Connor said. “Last year, I thought our biggest problem was scoring, and now I’d say it’s one of our strengths.”

The Owls scored eight goals in the first four games of their spring season. Junior forward Kerri McGinley scored five times.

McGinley had 10 points and four goals in 2017, which tied for second-most goals on the team with Falcone.

“I’m definitely aiming for at least a double-digit point total,” McGinley said. “However, I also think it’ll be huge to not just try and rely on a few players for scoring, and this team is good enough to get everybody involved.”

O’Connor said he feels he has four starting forwards in McGinley, sophomores Jules Blank and Morgan Morocco and freshman Emma Wilkins.

The Owls will also add four freshmen in Fall 2018, including three forwards. One of them is incoming freshman forward Hailey Gutowski from Cinnaminson High School in New Jersey. Gutowski scored 21 goals and had 61 points in 18 games during her senior season in 2017.

Incoming freshman forward Gabi Johnson set several scoring records at Oakcrest High School in New Jersey, including the mark for career goals with 62.

“This is probably the best group of goal-scorers I’ve had since I’ve coached here,” O’Connor said. “It was very easy to over-rely on Gabriella, Elana and Morgan because they were so good, but now we have even more weapons that can score at that kind of level.”

“I think the rest of the team has really been pitching in to give us a more team-oriented scoring attack,” he added.

The Owls expect to have all of their attackers healthy entering the 2018 season. McGinley was returning from injury last season, and Blank was sidelined for all of 2017.

Morocco is recovering from an offseason hip injury, O’Connor said, but she expects to be healthy by the start of the 2018 campaign.

“I’ve definitely gotten a different perspective having sat out for a year,” Blank said. “Gabriella, Elana and Morgan were all great players, but I think we can be even better as a team spreading the scoring around more. I’m definitely excited to get back out and play with this team.”

Among the forwards poised to contribute to goal-scoring totals are midfielders Bella Sorrentino and Julia Dolan, each of whom will be entering their sophomore seasons.

The two second-year players combined for 50 goals in their high school careers, and both are expected to leap into larger point-scoring totals — a quality that O’Connor said makes the Owls tough to prepare for.

Temple ended last season on a four-game losing streak in which it averaged less than one goal per game. But O’Connor said the Owls have enough skilled offensive players for the upcoming season that if one person is struggling to score, the team will still be able to generate opportunities.

“When you’re heavily reliant on just one or a couple of goal-scorers, the game plan for your opponents is to just mark them, and you’re also just an injury or two away from your season falling apart,” O’Connor said. “We’re going to have plenty of scoring options, and other coaches can’t game plan to mark everybody, so I’m expecting big things.”

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