The Owls’ offense was never able to solve SMU’s defense Sunday, as the women’s soccer team dropped a home conference matchup to the Mustangs by a score of 1-0.
Even though Temple was outshot 15 to three and unable to make opposing goalkeeper Lauryn Bodden make a single save, coach Seamus O’Connor remained positive.
“It was a better quality opponent,” O’Connor said. “We played very, very well,” O’Connor said. “That’s a strong SMU team, a very, very strong American conference team.”
O’Connor had a plan of attack from the start, and to his team’s credit, they stuck with it throughout a slow opening half. SMU was in Temple’s half constantly—and ended up outshooting Temple nine to three by halftime.
“The way we wanted to play, we wanted to isolate our girls in areas we could counter to [attack],” O’Connor said. “It makes sense to me to have more space to attack than to have loads of people between you and the goal. So what we do is we trust our defenders who are phenomenally good, to go out and defend.”
Temple’s defense did prevent many SMU chances from becoming goals, until the 53rd minute. At that point, Mustang defender Courtney Smith sent a cross into the box. Seconds later, forward Kelsey Gorney had been credited with the game’s only goal.
“It happened so fast, I’m gonna watch it back on game film and understand what happened,” Temple goalkeeper Shauni Kerkhoff said. “We gave up a cross, and they had numbers running in. Kaylee [Harner] followed her mark, and I honestly couldn’t tell if it was off our girl or if it was off SMU.”
Looking ahead, the Owls start their road conference schedule on Friday against South Florida and Central Florida on Sunday.
“It’s gonna be a lot of work with the trainers and the girls looking after themselves this week,” O’Connor said. “That’s two nationally ranked teams, but the girls aren’t afraid of hard work.”
“The preparation this week is huge,” Senior captain Karly O’Toole said. “We play two unbelievable teams, so for us it’s taking care of our bodies. Eating well, practicing, getting enough sleep, working hard, getting it done in the weight room, and coming out with a ‘no fear’ attitude on Friday will help us against South Florida.”
Even with today’s loss, Kerkhoff says Temple is not a team to be taken lightly.
“We are a lot better than people say we are,” Kerkhoff said. “We just need to come in with that attitude to show what we are.”
Steve Bohnel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SteveSportsGuy1.