As the crowd filed out of the stands at the Temple Sports Complex Saturday, a group of students started a “Hip, Hip, Jorge” chant to recognize the senior midfielder.
Jorge Gomez Sanchez recognized their cheer with a wave and then looked down, shook his head and smiled, knowing he just contributed to a huge win for Temple in his final regular season home game as an Owl.
Gomez Sanchez scored in overtime to give Temple (10-5-2, 2-2-2 American Athletic Conference) a 1-0 victory against Central Florida.
Fittingly, a senior scored the game-winning goal on the Owls’ senior night. The seven seniors helped Temple post an 8-0-2 record at the new Temple Sports Complex.
Gomez Sanchez nabbed the elusive 14th goal of his season off a pass from sophomore midfielder and forward Jordan Wix Rauch, With this goal, he surpassed his previous season-high of 13 goals.
“I thought goal number 14 was never going to come,” Gomez Sanchez said. “But it finally came this year. I knew I had to get this goal for the program.”
As soon as Gomez Sanchez scored, the team sprinted around him and formed a huddle to celebrate.
“I’m just excited and relieved,” coach David MacWilliams said. “All three conference home games here have gone into overtime, so it’s a battle. This is a tough league and the guys play hard, and they won the game, so I’m really happy.”
Gomez Sanchez’s goal is keeping the Owls’ hopes of a postseason berth alive. To move on to the American Athletic Conference tournament, Temple must be ranked in the top four teams in the conference.
Temple is currently sitting in fifth place, just one point behind Connecticut and Cincinnati. The Owls will face South Florida next. The Bulls currently sit in first place in The American with a 5-1 conference record.
“It’s a must-win situation,” MacWilliams said. “We wanted to win. The guys knew that a tie wasn’t a good result for us, so we had to go out and win the game.”
The Owls have struggled the past couple of games with finishing their shots. The Owls lead The American in shots in conference game, but are last in goals per game. The team ended the night with 19 shots, five on goal and two that hit the post. It wasn’t until the 94th minute when Gomez Sanchez scored.
An opportunity also came when Central Florida was called for a handball in the box and Temple was awarded a penalty kick. Senior defender Stefan Mueller took the shot, but it was just off, hitting the post.
Redshirt-junior goalkeeper Alex Cagle registered his ninth shutout of the year, recording one save on the night.
In honor of senior night, every senior on the team started, including midfielder Dan White and defender Tanner Giles-Tucker. It was Giles-Tucker’s first start and first appearance since Oct. 15.
The team’s other seniors that were honored are Gomez Sanchez, Mueller, defender Carlos Moros Gracia, midfielder Kevin Klett and defender Matt Mahoney.
“I’m just so happy for the seniors,” MacWilliams said. “They got the win their last game on the home field.”
Maura Razanauskas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @CaptainAMAURAca.