An abundance of youth brings a fresh perspective to the 2013 Temple Lacrosse team, but more than a few polished and veteran leaders are on hand to guide the way for this young Owls' squad.
“There is not a player on the roster that doesn't have the opportunity to make an impact this year,” said seventh-year head coach Bonnie Rosen
Seven starters were lost to graduation at the end of the 2012 season, but six of the team's top 10 scorers are returning. Joining 15 veterans are 13 true freshmen who already have a season of fall collegiate ball under their belts, and showed Rosen that they are ready to play.
“We expect our freshmen to be on the field,” said Rosen. “Every day they are showing huge strides in their skill development and their game sense. Their continued development through practice and game experience will be a key ingredient to a successful year.”
The players and coaching staff work hard to foster team chemistry, and Rosen believes that pays dividends.
“The chemistry is everything,” she said. “We learn that day in and day out. The chemistry off the field is excellent and they have spent a lot of time together developing it. Having 13 freshmen has been a great addition to our program. They all get along really well and have brought that cohesiveness to the whole team. We're still learning how to play well with each other on the field. The team is full of a lot of different personalities but all with the same goal in mind to be the best.”
The 2012 Temple season saw the Owls narrowly miss out on a berth in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, but the season highlights included a 5-0 start and the program's 400th overall victory. With the 2013 season being the last for Temple in the A-10, the Owls will look to make it a memorable one.
“Our goal is to give ourselves a good chance at winning the A-10 Championship. We are certainly aware of the historical significance of this season being the last one in the A-10 conference but our focus is really just on being the best. We have learned the hard way that if you don't take care of the day to day, we might not give ourselves the opportunity to play for that Championship. One step at a time!”
The top goal-scorer from a year ago was Stephany Parcell
, now coming back for her senior year with 80 career goals to her name.
“Steph is a force beyond forces,” said Rosen. “She is physically very difficult for opponents to stop. She has had a few go-to moves that have scored her most of her goals throughout her career. Those will still be there but she has really worked hard in the offseason to develop a bigger game where she can be a scoring threat in a lot of different ways.”
Other offensive leaders returning this season include junior Jaymie Tabor
(21 goals), senior Charlotte Swavola
(19 goals, 15 assists), senior Jackie Mercer
(14 goals) and senior Kellee Pace
(9 goals, 1 assist).
“Jaymie has come into her own; she has had her moments over the past years to be a real standout attacker for us,” said Rosen, “but as a junior she's finally matured. She is outstanding on the attacking end and is defending really well.
“Charlotte is our never-ending midfielder who can get it done on the offensive and defensive end, and certainly her speed though the midfield opens up things for us to create fast breaks.
“We are really lucky to have Jackie Mercer
back for a fifth year. Her explosive play coupled with her passion and commitment to making this a great team will be a huge asset.
“Kellee is a strong, smart attacker. She's savvy. We are looking forward to her being consistently strong through the entire year. She always makes significant impact at different points during the season, and we think she is someone that can really help us lead our attack.”
The most experienced players returning for Temple on the defensive end are seniors Megan Chlada
and Nina Falcone
“Megan is a veteran defender for us,” said Rosen. “She's smart, sees the game, communicates the game, and is always an anchor in the defense. We will really rely on her to help organize the defense throughout the year. Nina, who we lost early in the year last year, is back. She was rehabbing all fall, we now have her back and she looks great. She is a huge motivating force out of the defensive end; just consistently a strong player. So we're really excited to have her back and that will be a big change on the field for us.”
The Owls will be relatively inexperienced in goal after the departure of Tess Bishop
who started all 17 games last season. Senior Meghan Clothier
will look to step in after seeing action in eight games last year, but the spot is also wide open for sophomore Rachel Hall
and redshirt freshman Jaqi Kakalecik
“All three are going to be fighting for the spot,” said Rosen, “and we're in good shape with whoever is in the cage. They are each very solid in goal and bring unique strengths to their play. Competition for the starting role is fierce but in the end the key will be who can play at a high level consistently that will keep them on the field.”
The class of 13 joining the Owls for their first season is a unique one, with two sets of twin sisters and a third set of high school teammates. Among the group are nine players from Pennsylvania and two each from New Jersey and Maryland. Temple fans will be seeing double in the form of Avery Longstaff
and Kari Longstaff
as well as Megan Tiernan
and Nicole Tiernan
- two sets of identical twins.
The 2013 season begins early and begins at home for the Owls, with four straight games at Geasey Field from Feb. 16 to March 2. The opener has Temple hosting Niagara, while Rutgers, Lehigh and Lafayette also visit campus during that stretch.
After the four-game homestand, the Owls will have to adjust to life on the road as the schedule features just three more games at Geasey Field the rest of the way. The schedule is highlighted by a long trek to California that will see Temple face Stanford, USC and San Diego State on a week-long Spring Break trip.
“Our schedule really sets us up to have a great year,” said Rosen “It is really nice for a change to have a little homestand for our freshmen to be able to settle in a little bit. It's always good to see new competition such as Niagara to ensure that we think of ourselves in the current and not in the past. It gives us an opportunity to start on a clean slate and define who we are against an opponent we have never seen before.
“Our trip to California is definitely something we are excited about. The last time we took a trip there for spring break, we won an A-10 championship that year. It is an opportunity to prove ourselves nationally against teams with pretty competitive schedules.”
The final season of A-10 play begins on March 29 as Temple heads to nearby Saint Joseph's. The home league contests for the Owls include Saint Bonaventure, George Washington and Richmond.
Massachusetts will host the 2013 A-10 Tournament from April 26-28, featuring the top four teams after the regular season.
By Karen Auerbach, Athletic Communications