Goalie Max Polkinho was in rare form Sunday afternoon.
The junior out of Portola Valley, California, made 12 saves against Temple, and led the University of Pennsylvania to a 3-0 victory at Ambler Sports Complex. The win made Penn the Philadelphia Soccer Six champions this season.
The Owls jumped out to a quick start, but once again couldn’t find the finishing touch in a scoreless first half. By the time the halftime whistle blew, Temple had outshot Penn by nine shots to two.
Polkinhorne was a huge reason why, making many diving saves during the entire match. One of the most notable stops came in the 24th minute of the match, when junior midfielder/forward Jared Martinelli served in a cross from the left side of the field.
Redshirt senior Chas Wilson appeared to have his second goal of the season in the bag, deflecting a one-time shot toward the far post. But Polkinhorne reacted quickly and made a fine save diving to his left.
Coach David MacWilliams said his performance was a huge part in keeping the Quakers in the game during the opening half.
“[Polkinhorne] had a great game today,” he said. “I think of three or four chances we had that were 90 percent [chance] of being goals, and I thought he did well and saved them…I think we could have possibly been up two, or three goals in the first half.”
Once the second half started, the Quakers’ fed off their junior goalie’s strong first half performance and started amassing offense of their own, tallying eight shots—three of which found the back of the net.
Temple goalie Bobby Rosato wasn’t tested in the first half, but his time off and rustiness showed after the intermission. Dan Scheck had received a red card in the team’s last match against Fordham, leaving the job up to the redshirt senior out of Downingtown, Pa.
Penn captain and senior forward Duke Lacroix started the scoring off with one of the easiest goals of his collegiate career in the 63rd minute.
Sophomore forward Alec Neumann, Penn’s leading goal scorer heading into the contest, hit a through ball intending to find Lacroix on the other end. Rosato came off his line and appeared to have the play sniffed out, but he missed the most important part—catching the ball.
When he missed, the New Egypt, New Jersey native converted his third goal of the season.
The mistake turned out to be the nail in the coffin for the Owls, as a defensive miscue and another tap-in resulted in two goals in the next seven and a half minutes.
Penn junior midfielder Forrest Clancy jumped on a back line miscommunication and fired a shot that wrong-footed Rosato and found the left side of the net in the 66th minute. Two and a half minutes later, a Clancy cross was dropped by Rosato, and the ball was kicked around until junior midfielder Sam Engs tapped in the loose change to make it 3-0.
The sudden momentum switch was disappointing to MacWilliams, which said his team lost concentration after the opening goal.
“I think people checked out,” he said. “They had two guys in the box on the second goal, and that’s just guys cheating and taking the play off…frustration [from the first half] sets in and they stop doing their jobs.”
The loss drops the Owls to 1-1-5, who now haven’t won a match since Aug. 31. Wilson says a lot of the team’s struggles have had to do with inexperience.
“A lot [of the struggles] have been mental,” Wilson said. “Part of that is youth. The older guys have been through slides like this, and we all just need to come together and get over it.”
One of those older guys is Rosato, who says it’s time to start winning in any hopes of turning the season around.
“There’s a point where you have to stop saying, ‘Next game,’” Rosato said. “It becomes necessary to focus on that one game, and every game from now is a must-win.”
Temple has its hands full Wednesday, as they take on No. 11 Delaware at 4 p.m. at Ambler Sports Complex.
The last time the Owls had just one win this late in a season was back in 2010, when they won their first match … Penn leading goal scorer Alec Neumann added two assists today to up his point total to eight … Senior midfielder Louis Schott got into the scoring category for Penn with an assist on Engs’ goal … Redshirt freshman goalie Alex Cagle came on for the last 16:39 of play for Temple, but didn’t face a shot on target.
Steve Bohnel can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @SteveSportsGuy1.