Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 2/11/16
From Press Release
With a veteran group of 13 seniors, the stage is set for Temple lacrosse to finally make its mark in the BIG EAST Conference in 2016. The Owls were impressive in non-conference play with a 8-1 mark last season, but hit a lull in league play that they are looking to avoid this year.
Temple joined the BIG EAST as an associate member starting in the 2014 season, but the Owls have so far come up short in earning a conference tournament berth. History is certainly on Temple’s side, with the program advancing to the Atlantic 10 Tournament in 13 of 15 seasons in which it was a member of that conference. All-time, Temple has also made 17 NCAA Tournament appearances, including one in 2008 under current head coach Bonnie Rosen.
Bonnie Rosen (Harriton) now enters her 10th season at the helm after leading the Owls to 10 wins last year, the most since 2008. In 2016, Rosen’s team returns all six players who recorded double figures in goals a year ago, as well as starting goalkeeper Jaqi Kakalecik.
Senior midfielder Nicole Tiernan (Washington Township, NJ) was a BIG EAST First Team selection last season, and has already been named to the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team this year. She led the Owls with 35 goals and 38 total points in her junior season, ranking fourth in the conference with 2.19 goals per game. Twin sister Megan Tiernan (Washington Township, NJ) was the Owls’ leader in BIG EAST games with 11 goals.
Leading the Owls in assists last year was Rachel Schwaab, who returns for her senior season. Her 14 assists ranked ninth in the conference, and she was tops on the team in total points for league games with 15 (nine goals, six assists).
“Rachel had a fantastic fall,” said Rosen. “She really grew her game to be a lot more dynamic as a threat with the ball. We are looking to her to help organize the offense and control the pace of the offense. She will be integral to the way our offense is functioning as its currently designed.
“We’ve got very strong midfielders as well. I would expect the Tiernans will help anchor that for us. Offensively, we’ve been looking to Rachel a lot to help set our attack, and recently Brenda McDermott (North Penn) has emerged as a top leader for our offense.”
Along with returning the core of its offensive and midfield power, the Owls are deep defensively. Team co-captains and seniors Maddie McTigue (Villa Maria Academy) and Kara Stroup (Garnet Valley) anchor the defense along with Kakalecik, and Rosen expects senior Summer Jaros (Bishop Shanahan) to be right there with them.
Rosen is confident that no matter who ends up in the starting lineup, there will be a strong rotation of substitutions.
“We have a lot of people vying for starting spots,” she said, “but as far as playing ability, we’re pretty deep right now. We expect to play quite a few numbers. We’ve got a lot of people ready to make their mark.”
Speaking to the wealth of leadership Temple has this year, Rosen doesn’t believe there are any drawbacks to having so many seniors on the team.
“To have 13 veteran players who know what it takes and are self-motivated and care about each other, there’s nothing negative about that. Our captains will still be really critical in key moments when the leadership has to step up and be the voice, but day-to-day we’ll be so much stronger with this veteran group.”
Although every game is critical in helping Temple prepare for conference play, Rosen has her team focused on the big picture of learning and growing every day.
“The teams that really succeed down the stretch are the ones that can keep growing their game and don’t stay the team they were to start the season,” she said. “One of the things we’ve been focused on is the ability to learn and grow. How to keep pushing and learning to adapt. We came out really strong last year but hit a lull going into conference play, and we have to be ready to be better by that point in our season this year.”
Temple’s schedule is heavy on games at Geasey Field, which the Owls will be playing on for the final time in 2016 before moving down the street to the new William Penn facility in 2017.
“We’re really excited to have so many games at home,” said Rosen. “Getting comfortable on our home field is really nice, and it’ll be nice to have home crowds there. When you travel you can kind of come together a little bit more as a team at times, so we’re really trying to do a lot of bonding here at home. But we should be refreshed and well-rested from not having to travel as much this year.”
The Owls will get a challenge right from the get-go in 2016, hosting #16 Louisville in their season opener on Friday, Feb. 12.
“Louisville will be one of the best teams, if not the best team, we’ll play all season,” said Rosen. “They’re an outstanding offensive team. It really helps us to go against top competition, and I think we have the ability to knock them off. Trying to get our game ready for them means we’re getting ready for the best competition we can see all year. It’ll be a great test for us.”
Many traditional rivalries make up the bulk of the Owls’ remaining non-conference games, including home contests against La Salle, Rutgers, Saint Joseph’s and Delaware. Temple won all four games against those opponents a year ago, including one-goal victories over Rutgers and Saint Joseph’s. The 2015 non-conference season was capped by an 11-6 win at #19 Delaware.
Temple begins conference play on the road at defending BIG EAST champ and #7 Florida. The Owls will play four league games at home and just three on the road, closing out the season with home games against Cincinnati on April 23 and Georgetown on April 30.
The four-team BIG EAST Tournament will be hosted by Georgetown and is set for May 5 and 7 in Washington, D.C