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College preview: @Templelacrosse has high hopes for 2015

Thursday, 12th February 2015

Categories College, Girl's/Women's  
 

Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 2/12/15
From Press Release

The 2015 season began with a 10-9 overtime win over UMBC Wednesday for Temple lacrosse. With a veteran squad and the addition of a number of talented newcomers, the outlook is a good one for the Owls.

Fans looking to catch Temple in action at home should do so early, as only three of the first nine games for the Owls will be played at Geasey Field. Temple begins its second season as an associate member of the BIG EAST Conference, and will open league play at home against the powerhouse Florida Gators on Saturday, March 28.

2015 Season Outlook

Nicole Tiernan

Nicole Tiernan

Talk to any head coach before a season starts and you’ll hear optimism in their voice, but there is extra gravity to that positive outlook this year in the voice of Temple Lacrosse Head Coach Bonnie Rosen. “We have the most depth this program has ever had,” said Rosen, heading into her ninth season at the helm.

The Owls return six of their top eight leading scorers from a year ago, and Rosen says the offensive firepower is better than ever. Temple very narrowly missed out a berth in the BIG EAST Tournament in 2014, with its weakness perhaps being a reliance on too few players to score goals.

“We try not to spend a lot of time thinking about the past as we prepare for this season,” said Rosen, “but we do return a lot of last year’s team so there are things we’re focused on improving. We have to score more goals, it’s really that simple. We graduated our leading goal-scorer in Jaymie Tabor, and yet we have so many offensive weapons within our team. We have to learn how to maximize the use of all of them.”

Rosen said the team will be more likely to naturally share the ball this season, leading to increased scoring opportunities.

“Anything can happen in terms of a person carrying the scoring load,” she said, “but I think the key to our success this year is going to be having a lot of scorers. We are looking to play a lot of attackers. Our midfielders all have the ability to score goals as well as our attackers.”

The Owls’ leading returner on offense is junior midfielder Nicole Tiernan (Washington Township, NJ), a Preseason All-BIG EAST selection who earned BIG EAST Second Team honors as a sophomore. Tiernan scored 29 goals and led Temple with 18 goals in conference games. Junior Rachel Schwaab and sophomore Morgan Glassford (Strath Haven) were the Owls’ third and fourth-leading scorers last season, combining for 29 goals, while Glassford tied Tabor for team-high honors with six assists.

Rosen says the primary leadership duties are in very capable hands this season, with three defenders set to lead the way. Senior Carli Fitzgerald (Abington) along with juniors Maddie McTigue (Villa Maria Academy) and Kara Stroup (Garnet Valley) were voted as captains by the team, with McTigue also earning that honor as a sophomore. Temple’s original fourth captain, senior Molly Seefried (Abington), is a loss for the Owls this year as she suffered a season-ending injury.

“Each of our captains in their own right lead this team vocally and by example,” said Rosen. “That natural leadership will exist. I would expect that Rachel would take a leading role on the attacking end of the field. We have a lot going on in our midfield with both Nicole and Megan (Tiernan) really playing well. Kirstie Connor is also returning in the midfield with a ton of experience, and she leads a lot more by example but is becoming much more vocal. Our official leadership comes out of our defensive end, but we have pretty good leadership throughout the whole field.”

McTigue, an All-BIG EAST Second Team honoree as a sophomore, led the team and ranked third in the league in draw controls per game. Her season total of 44 draw controls ranks eighth all-time in a single season in program history.

In the cage, Rosen expects redshirt junior Jaqi Kakalecik to be the starter, with senior Rachel Hall (Clearview Regional) ready to go. Kakalecik started in the Owls’ final 10 games last season, and earned BIG EAST Second Team honors for Temple.

The Owls welcome seven freshmen to the team this year, and Rosen has been impressed with their ability to make an impact.

“We weren’t depending upon our freshmen to be the keys to the season, but they have come in and are all just continuing to get better and better,” she said. “They have strengths that will potentially be very important to our season. Nicole Barretta is just an offensive game-player. Come game time, she finds a way to put the ball in the net. She is certainly one that I think could draw a lot of attention as a freshman. I think Kira Gensler (Spring-Ford) is a very creative player in her own right and is great as a complimentary player. Another freshman I would currently expect to get significant playing time is Haile Houck. We started her as a defender in the fall but she’s going to move into the midfield to fill the loss of Molly.”

While Rosen is able to single out any number of players for their strengths, she and her staff are careful to ensure the entire roster continues to mature.

“We look at our team right now and we know we need to develop everyone,” she said. “You never know what’s going to happen as far as health and injuries. ”

Temple enters its second season as an associate member of the BIG EAST Conference in 2015, but the schedule will already have a new look from a year ago.

“I always enjoy a change of schedule to be honest,” said Rosen. “I love the addition of Florida and Vanderbilt to the BIG EAST. It’s fantastic for notoriety in terms of the national exposure we’ll get, and the competition level of Florida, in particular, is great for our schedule. I expect it to be very tight in BIG EAST play this year. I think Florida is the leading candidate to win it, but I think you have a bunch of teams that will be battling it out to get to our four-team tournament.”

The Owls finished in a three-way tie for fourth place in 2014, knocked out in a tiebreaker after a one-goal loss at Rutgers in the final game of the year. While Rutgers has moved on to the Big Ten Conference, the Scarlet Knights remain on Temple’s non-conference schedule in 2015.

“Our non-conference schedule is definitely a big opportunity to avenge some losses,” said Rosen, “starting with UMBC at home on Feb. 11. The Rutgers, Delaware, Denver stretch will be a good one. Overall, we’ll be seeing teams from a lot of difference conferences.”

While Temple has had to put the narrow loss at Rutgers in the past, Rosen said it was certainly a motivating factor in the offseason.

“It’s on the mind of a lot of players how close we were to achieving our goal of making the tournament last year,” she said. “I think it did a lot to motivate people over the summer, but I think at this point we are just very focused on being ready for game one against UMBC.”

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