WRITTEN BY: JACOB GUZDEK
PHILADELPHIA — On Sunday afternoon at the Temple Sports Complex, Temple honored its four seniors: Ali Meszaros, Katie Foran, Michelle Walsh, and Paige Gross.
In their final regular season game, Foran and Gross score a goal apiece as Temple (7-11, 3-4) pulled out a 3-1 win against Lafayette.
“It was awesome to be able to get this win on senior day,” Meszaros said. “We’ve just worked so hard as a team this year and it’s a great win to get momentum going into the Big East tournament.”
Head coach Marybeth Freeman echoed her player’s sentiments, praising the seniors’ college careers.
“This win was just great for our seniors,” Freeman said. “They’ve put in four years of excellent work ethic, and for us to get a win for them on this day was really important.”
Coming off a tough 7-0 loss on Friday against Liberty, where the Owls found themselves down 3-0 just 16 minutes into the game, Temple came out much more structured on Sunday and was able to secure an early lead.
In the 13th minute, the Owls took advantage of a penalty corner. Their initial shot was deflected by a Lafayette defender, but freshman back Becky Gerhart collected the rebound and slid a pass over to Gross, who found the back of the net for her first goal of the season.
For the next 15 minutes, the two teams were in a stalemate until the 28th minute. Temple’s junior forward Maiyah Brown ran up the sideline and cut in toward the goal to get a shot off. The shot was saved, but Foran was there to smash home the rebound for her fifth goal of the season.
While Brown didn’t record a point in the game, she was a consistent offensive force, finishing with four shots on goal and generating a couple opportunities that directly led to two Temple goals.
“Maiyah and the rest of our forwards have been doing a great job of using their speed when they need to,” Freeman said. “Our forwards have also been transforming into more complete players and are focusing on all aspects of their games. So we have a much wider arsenal with our attackers now because of that.”
Temple closed out a strong defensive half as they fended off a Lafayette corner in the final minute, holding the Leopards to just one shot on goal and two penalty corners.
Lafayette came out quickly in the second half, however, as its deficit was cut to one goal less than two minutes in. Sophomore forward Kristen Taylor was able to deflect a long pass to the outside circle from junior midfielder Ellen Colbourne, who netted her first goal of the season, to make the score 2-1.
Lafayette’s offense kept the pressure on in the second half, taking five shots and generating five penalty corners. But Temple’s defense held strong as freshman goalkeeper Maddie Lilliock finished with four saves, while Gerhart recorded a defensive save.
The Owls were able to blank the Leopards on all seven of their penalty corners throughout the game, which was a huge improvement after allowing four goals off penalty corners in Friday’s with Liberty contest.
“Overall, our individual defense was so much better today and I think on corners, our mentality that we were going to stop them was just better,”Freeman said. “Give credit to Liberty in that game. They just shifted our defense a lot on those corners. But today we did a lot better job of staying on our assignments on corners.”
The Owls added an insurance goal in the 56th minute in a play that was very similar to their second goal. Brown cut in from the sideline and got a shot off that was saved. But junior midfielder Rachael Mueller was there to put home the rebound for her team-leading tenth goal of the season.
Temple finishes the regular season with a 7-11 overall record, including a 3-4 record in Big East play. The Owls will be back in action on Friday in the Big East Tournament as the No. 4 seed, taking on No. 1 seeded Connecticut. In late September, the Huskies defeated the Owls 6-0 in Storrs, Conn.
“UConn is a very good team, but we’ve played a lot of good teams this year,” Meszaros said. “So we’re going to go out this week, have a great week of practice, and then give it everything we have on Friday and hope to get that win and get into the Big East Championship.”