By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 10/21/13
It was a homecoming for many Philly players, and a chance for several Division I women’s teams from the region and beyond to prepare for the spring lacrosse season.
Temple, Penn State, Geoergetown and Duquesne competed Sunday in the Radnor Tournament as each team played three Fall Ball games before a large crowd and perfect weather.
For Temple – entering its first year in the Big East – it was indeed a homecoming for the Young Owls, who have only . Fourteen Owls played in the five-country area and seven more are from South Jersey, Delaware or Central PA.
“It sort of feels like a home field advantage,” said Temple senior Jaymie Tabor (Downingtown East), the team’s top returning scorer (27 tallies in 2013). “It was nice to come out and play, especially against Georgetown since we’re in the Big East. We got a feel of how they are playing.”
Tabor noted that her team has only a combined eight juniors and seniors.
“Our sophomore class has 13 members, but it doesn’t feel like they are underclassmen,” Tabor said. “We really incorporated them last year. They are leaders and helping freshmen to take that role. I think they’ve been stepping up.
“Any chance to play is awesome because the younger kids get the chance to touch a stick. I think we did pretty well. We held our own against Penn State. We have a lot of improvement to make, but otherwise we felt good.”
Temple coach Bonnie Rosen, herself a Harriton High grad, said her team is happy for the challenge of the Big East. She has spent most of the Fall Ball season on skill-building as opposed to game scrimmaging.
“We’re thrilled for the spring to be joining the Big East,” said Rosen. “This spring has been different. We’ve been focused more on individual skills and the tournament days are the only times we scrimmage, so this was fun to get on the field and figure things out on the fly.
“We’re getting better and better and what’s really important is that each of our players are growing in their skill sets. That will only make us better.”
Rosen is happy with her young players.
“We have a good core group of juniors and seniors, but we have a ton of talent in the sophomore and freshmen classes,” she said.
For Penn State, the event was both a homecoming and reunion. The Nittany Lions feature 10 players from Philly and they were pleased to see recently hired Temple assistant Molly Fernandez – a Penn State captain last year.
“It was really good to connect with people; I had to guard (Georgetown senior and Radnor grad) Kelyn Freedman, and I got to see Molly Fernandez,” said Penn State sophomore midfielder Ally Heavens, a 2012 Phillylacrosse.com Co-Player of the Year and two-time state champion from Garnet Valley after the final game vs. Georgetown. “A lot of teams here have high expectations.
“Our first two games were a little shaky. Coach (Missy Doherty) said, ‘This isn’t how we play.’ And this game we finished hard so she congratulated us with two days off. We have been working non-stop hard every day.”
“It was great to come back; my whole family was here,” added Penn State senior defender Cat Layne, a Villa Maria Academy grad. “It was great seeing so many friends and playing against someone like Kelyn Freedman and seeing Molly Fernandez.”
Layne was one of Doherty’s first recruits and has seen Doherty transform the Lions from a solid team to a national contender. Last year Penn State reached the NCAA quarterfinals and suffered a heartbreaking overtime loss to Northwestern in the American Lacrosse Conference semifinals.
“From my freshman year we’ve made a big turnaround,” said Layne. “Back then we just wanted to make the (NCAA) tournament. Now we expect to make it to the Final Four.”
“We made the Final Eight last year,” added Heavens. “We are all disappointed we didn’t make it to Final Four and we know where we want to be.”
Georgetown had a true Radnor connection as senior Freedman (2010 Phillylacrosse.com Player of the Year), sophomore Natalie Miller and freshman Lyndsey Britton returned to their home field. Other locals included senior Courtney Caputo (Springside School) and sophomore Kristen Bandos (Academy of Notre Dame).
“Coming home was awesome, and the team did a good job appreciating that,” said Freedman. “They also did a good job trying to get down to business and working on us. I think we started off slowly, which has become a pattern we need to figure out how to fix.
“But everyone played really hard throughout the day and even though our last game we were tired, everyone was working really hard. Everyone has the same goals in the country: working for a championship, a league championship, and a national championship. This team has the capability; we just have to play to our potential.”
Duquesne also had its Philly connection with six Philly grads, including sophomore attack Lib Lowry, the Atlantic-10’s Rookie of the Year.