The match against Villanova was one even President Theobald didn’t want to miss.
Temple’s president sat in the crowd at Higgins Soccer Complex during the No. 23 Owls’ 2-1 victory Wednesday at Villanova.
In their first game since being ranked in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Division I national poll, the Owls (5-0-1) scored two goals in the second half off shots by junior defender Carlos Moros Gracia and junior midfielder Jorge Gomez Sanchez.
Gracia opened the match’s scoring 70 minutes. After freshman defender Belal Mohamed passed the ball to him off a corner kick from freshman defender Hermann Doerner, Gracia scored from six yards out.
“I think particularly today, when it was such a hot day, I think mentally that helped us a lot by going up early,” coach David MacWilliams said. “It was a very tough game and … we didn’t play our best game, which is attributed to the way Villanova played, but we prevailed and that’s a sign of a good team.”
Sanchez’s goal in the 88th minute came after a physical game plan from the Wildcats. The junior midfielder and Villanova player exchanged words after a collision in the 24th minutes knocked both players to the ground.
The Talavera De La Reina, Spain native said he had extra motivation before his goal gave the Owls a 2-0 lead.
“They were fighting [me] and stepping on me and I said, ‘I will score for you,’” Gomez Sanchez said, who scored in the 88th minute. “After I scored, I dedicated it [to] him.”
MacWilliams said his team’s aggression was a key to the Owls’ victory.
“I think you’ve got to play with aggression here,” MacWilliams said. “I think it gets players into the game when it’s a physical game.”
The Wildcats scored their first goal with 37 seconds left in the game, spoiling a shutout for sophomore goalkeeper Alex Cagle, who ended his night with seven saves on 17 shots. The Owls’ goalkeeper has three shutouts this season.
Maura Razanauskas can be reached at email@example.com