Men’s soccer coach David MacWilliams stresses the importance of shutting out opposing teams in the first and last 10 minutes of each half.
On Friday night at Jeffrey Field in University Park, that was exactly how Penn State won the game.
In the final minute of the opening half, Penn State won a corner kick, which was taken by sophomore forward Mark Wadid. Seconds later, Wadid’s service found senior midfielder and captain Owen Griffith, who headed the ball into the left side of the net. The score ended up being the lone goal in Temple’s 1-0 loss to Penn State.
MacWilliams said he’ll need another look at the play, but initially thinks that Griffith had too much space eight yards from the net.
“For me, [Griffith] was unchallenged,” MacWilliams. “For me, you can’t give clean looks in the box.”
The goal came at a time when Temple appeared to be getting back in the game, although the Nittany Lions outshot the Owls six to two in the first half. MacWilliams’ back line appeared to step up at the right moment several times, causing Penn State to be offside numerous times during the match.
In fact, in the opening 10 minutes Penn State was called offside three times. But MacWilliams said his team struggled with possession in the first half, which led to the four-shot differential.
The second half saw more of an attack from Temple, as the Owls pushed up and tried to equalize the score. They tied Penn State with eight shots a piece, and earned two corner kicks to the Nittany Lions’ one.
One aspect of the match that picked up in the second half was the physicality. 19 fouls were called, as well as three yellow cards being given. Junior forward Jared Martinelli and senior defender Jonah Williams each picked up one, and Penn State redshirt senior forward Mikey Minutollo was booked as well.
MacWilliams said it’s part of the game when played between two competitive teams at the college level.
“It was a tough battle,” MacWilliams said. “They’re a ranked team in the top 20, and I think we’re a very good team. And I think anytime you have those teams play, it’s gonna be a battle. It’s gonna be physical at times, and I think both teams competed.”
If it weren’t for the woodwork, Temple could have lost the match by more than one. In the last five minutes of the match, Wadid hit the post, and then the crossbar, after having assisted the goal in the first half.
MacWilliams said that these shots were off counterattacks, something Temple was willing to give up to try and tie the match and head into overtime.
“It doesn’t matter if you win 1-0 or 2-0, we’re trying to tie the game,” MacWilliams said. “At that time, we’re pushing forward, and they were able to counter on us and get some opportunities.”
MacWilliams added that his team got more opportunities during the “normal flow of the game” in the second half, but the further it takes to score that equalizing goal, the more risks you have to take.
Looking ahead, Temple heads to Durham, North Carolina on Tuesday to play Duke. The Blue Devils are coming off an impressive 8-2 victory on Sunday afternoon. Again, MacWilliams and his crew will look to the tape to adjust.
“We’re gonna look at game film, see what we’re doing, and what we can do [to improve],” MacWilliams said. “We’ve got to keep getting better game, and we played a very good team today.”
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday night at Koskinen Stadium.