Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/6/16
From Press Release
With a career-high five goals from senior Kirstie Connor and a seven-goal run in the second half, third-seeded Temple lacrosse cruised to a 12-8 win over second-seeded UConn (12-5) in the BIG EAST Championship semifinals on Thursday night in Washington D.C..
The Owls (13-5) now advance to the title game on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. against top-seeded and #2 Florida, coached for former Temple grad Amanda Moore.
“We’ve just been taking everything game-by-game, and tonight was really just about getting through this game,” said Temple head coach Bonnie Rosen. “It’s awesome to be in championship game. I’m just thrilled that we got ourselves in position to experience this and see what we can do on Saturday.”
Senior Rachel Schwaab dished a career-high five assists, tying for second all-time in a single game at Temple. Three of her assists game on Connor goals, while senior Brenda McDermott )North Penn) also assisted on back-to-back Connor goals in the second half. Temple was outstanding on the draw for most of the night, holding a 12-4 edge in that statistic until UConn earned the last six draws of the contest.
“This was a huge team effort,” said Rosen. “The ground balls, the draw controls, the defensive stands that were just stifling at times in terms of closing space with our bodies. Our execution on offense was fantastic. Everyone played a great game and I’m sure they’re exhausted right now.”
Connor scored four in a row during the Owls’ big run, which took the game from a 5-5 tie to an 12-5 Temple lead. Three of UConn’s second-half goals were scored in a desperate final minute for the Huskies after Temple had the game well in hand.
“It’s no surprise as a coach to see Kirstie have a day like this,” said Rosen. “We see what she can do all the time. For her to put it together on this stage when we needed it in a game like this, couldn’t be any more fitting. She is a very talented player, one of the most underrated players on our team as far as outside of the team, and for her to have this night is wonderful.”
Senior Nicole Tiernan (Washington Township) also notched a hat trick with three goals for the Owls, while senior Megan Tiernan (Washington Township) and junior Morgan Glassford (Strath Havern) scored two goals apiece. Connor and Glassford both came up with four draw controls, while Glassford also recorded three caused turnovers. Senior Jaqi Kakalecik made five big saves for Temple in the first half and finished with six in the game.
The teams traded goals over a sloppy first seven minutes that saw both squads commit a number of turnovers. Nicole Tiernan got both of the Owls’ goals in the early going, giving them a 1-0 lead and later a 2-1 lead on assists from senior Megan Pinkerton (Manheim Township) and Schwaab.
With 15:52 remaining in the half, Glassford took a pass from Schwaab and shot above the head of UConn goalkeeper Shannon Nee to put Temple up 3-2. Just over a minute later, Schwaab recorded her third assist of the game on a goal by Connor to put the Owls up by two, 4-2.
The Huskies got one back near the 11-minute mark, and knotted the game at 4-4 with 9:11 left in the half.
Megan Tiernan drove into the circle for an unassisted goal at 5:18, giving the Owls a 5-4 lead. They won the ensuing draw control and ran off time with a long offensive possession, not giving it up until the final minute. Kakalecik made a big save in the final seconds, helping Temple go into halftime with a one-goal, 5-4 lead.
UConn scored a free position goal in the first minute of the second half to tie the game at 5-5, but Megan Tiernan then drove the length of the field to put Temple back ahead just 25 seconds later. Her goal would prove to be the first in the 7-0 run for the Owls, and was followed by four in a row for Connor over a 13-minute stretch.
After two of Connor’s goals, Megan Tiernan came up with a big caused turnover to keep the Owls’ run going. When it was all over, Temple led by seven goals with 54 seconds left in the game.
The semifinal appearance marked Temple’s first-ever BIG EAST Tournament berth, and the Owls’ will now also make their first appearance in the BIG EAST Championship game. Temple’s last conference tournament final came in the Atlantic 10 in 2008, and it resulted in a 10-3 win for the Owls against UMass, sending them to the NCAA Tournament.