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Spiders, Owls search for A-10 title

After being crowned the 2010 Atlantic 10 regular season champions, the Richmond women’s lacrosse team heads into the A-10 tournament searching for its fourth title in the last six years.

In its path, however, will be Temple in the first round, which has a rich history of its own. The Owls (7-7, 4-3 A-10) are making their 11th appearance in the tournament in the last 12 years and have captured five overall titles, including four straight from 2001-04.

The Spiders (9-8, 6-1 A-10) earned the No. 1 overall seed for the tournament with a 6-1 conference record in the regular season. Massachusetts was the only team in the A-10 to defeat Richmond in the spring.

In the beginning of the year, the Spiders struggled early as they lost four consecutive games to difficult out-of-conference opponents in Maryland, Duke, North Carolina and Virginia. After starting out 0-4, Richmond bounced back and went 9-3 the rest of the season.

Temple, meanwhile, comes into the tournament with a No. 4 seed after a turbulent regular season.

After dropping two of its first three A-10 games, Temple finished its conference schedule strong with wins in three of its last four contests against St. Bonaventure, Duquesne and Saint Joseph’s.

One thing that can be expected in the first round matchup between Richmond and Temple is a lot of offense. Both teams rank in the top half of the conference in many offensive categories, including goals per game, assists per game, ground balls per game, point per game and draw controls per game.

The offense was on display in the last meeting between the two teams on March 26 at UR Stadium.

Despite a late rally by the Owls, the Spiders held their own en route to a 15-14 win. Richmond received hat tricks from three players and needed every last goal to edge Temple to earn its first A-10 win of the season.

In the early going, the Spiders put up scores in a hurry to take a 9-5 lead with just under seven minutes remaining in the first half. The Owls scored two goals to close the deficit to 9-7 heading into the intermission.

As the second half began, Richmond extended its lead with four unanswered goals to earn a 13-7 advantage with 18 minutes, 49 seconds remaining in the contest.

Not to be outdone, Temple responded with four unanswered goals of its own to close the gap back to two scores with under 10 minutes to play. Back-to-back goals from Gabi Wiegand and Mary Flowers, however, raised the Spiders lead to 15-11 and seemingly put the game out of reach with five minutes remaining.

Two costly yellow cards kept the Owls alive though, as Ryan Ball and goalkeeper Erica Marrocco each received a penalty within 30 seconds of each other to give Temple a two-man advantage. The Owls used the mismatch by scoring three goals within a 40 second span to all of a sudden make it a 15-14 game.

In the final 2:17, Richmond controlled key draws to regain possession and ran out the clock for the victory.

Sam Stevenson, Wiegand and Flowers each scored three goals to spur the Spiders attack, while Kara Moschetti and Danielle Schaevitz chipped in two scores apiece.

Temple was led on the offensive end by Chelsea Rosiek, who scored four goals while dishing four assists, and Missy Schweitzer, who scored three goals and added an assist.

The winner of the first round matchup will face the winner of the UMass-La Salle game in the A-10 finals on Sunday. The A-10 champion will also earn an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.

The semifinal game between Richmond and Temple will be played on Friday at 1 p.m., at Rooney Field on the campus of Duquesne.

Jay Asser can be reached at jasser@student.umass.edu.

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