In the 97th minute of Temple’s conference matchup Sunday with Memphis, senior defender Erin Lafferty initiated the set piece and played the ball to senior midfielder Shannon Senour at the far post.
Redshirt junior Gina DiTaranto ran through the box unmarked and headed Senour’s pass over the goal line to defeat Memphis, 2-1, and give the Owls (10-6, 2-4-1) their second American Athletic Conference win.
DiTaranto has scored the game-winning goal in both of Temple’s conference wins this season. Her last goal came in a 2-1 win over Cincinnati Oct. 8 at Ambler Soccer Field.
“Gina had timed her run perfectly to the back post and it was just unbelievable technique to head it in because it was kind of behind her, but she somehow got her head back and got enough power to put it over the line,” coach Seamus O’Connor said. “I don’t know if it actually hit the net, but it got over the line and that was it. We were celebrating.”
Heading into halftime tied 1-1, O’Connor put his game plan on the back burner.
“At halftime, we really talked about relying on our culture just to stick together as a team and that’s what we did,” O’Connor said. “These games are so close, it’s not really technical or tactical it’s just you have to revert back to your culture and I think that really showed in the second half.”
Both teams finished with one goal apiece after 90 minutes of play, forcing the Owls’ third overtime game of the season.
After Memphis, who outshot the Owls 17-10, attempted four consecutive shots to start the first overtime period, Temple regained possession and earned a set-piece opportunity thanks to the persistence of freshman striker Sarah McGlinn.
“Sarah did a great job battling with their outside back,” O’Connor said. “They just battled for what felt like 15 seconds and eventually Sarah outmuscled her and the girl fouled her, so we got a free kick from there.”
Memphis’ Valerie Sanderson scored in the 6th minute to give her team an early 1-0 advantage. It was the fifth time in conference play that the Owls allowed their opponents to score first.
The Owls tied the game when junior midfielder Elaine Beverly connected on a deep shot from outside the box in the 22nd minute.
“We started off the game very rocky and Memphis was just kind of all over us and they scored, but none of us panicked and it kind of goes back to the culture we have with the program,” O’Connor said. “We just don’t turn on each other and we always stick together.”
Tom Reifsynder can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Tom_Reifsnyder.