Heading into Saturday, the Owls were optimistic. They knew getting a win against South Florida, the top team in the American Athletic Conference, would be a challenge. They also knew that a victory would be the only way to qualify for the postseason tournament.
Temple (10-6-2, 2-3-2 The American) lost 1-0 to the Bulls Saturday at Corbett Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Despite winning 10 games for the second consecutive season, the Owls finished sixth out of eight teams in The American and 79th of 206 teams in the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer RPI.
Temple’s biggest problem was its inability to find the back of the net. The team couldn’t convert any of its 11 shots, three of which were on target. Senior midfielder Jorge Gomez Sanchez, the Owls’ leading scorer with 14 goals, finished the night with three shots to lead the team.
Some of the Owls’ defenders tried to become more involved on offense. Senior Carlos Moros Gracia and redshirt-junior Mark Grasela took two shots apiece.
One of the challenges the Owls faced heading into the game was defending South Florida’s offense. Unlike Temple’s offense that relies largely on Gomez Sanchez to score, the Bulls have several forwards who are able to score consistently.
Four Bulls have three or more goals this year and 11 different players have scored.
“They’re very dynamic,” coach David MacWilliams said. “They’ve got four guys, they’ve got mixed scoring, and so anyone of those four up top can score. You can’t just focus on one and shut down one and be satisfied. There’s going to be four guys that you’ve got to worry about.”
The Bulls found a way to pass through Temple’s defense and beat redshirt-junior goalkeeper Alex Cagle in the 64th minute to score the game-winning goal.
Cagle finished the night with three saves, the most he’s had to make since Temple’s Oct. 11 game against Columbia University.
Temple got more desperate to score in the final 20 minutes. In this time period, the Owls registered five shots, but received two yellow cards because of aggressive attempts to gain possession.
Maura Razanauskas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @CaptainAMAURAca.