While preparing for the season opener, the Owls were excited. The team felt ready to take on Saint Joseph’s after its preseason work.
Despite the practice and preparation, Temple made too many mistakes to win its first game. The Owls lost to the Hawks, 3-1, at Sweeney Field on Friday.
“It was not great,” coach David MacWilliams said. “I think we created enough chances in the first half, but we really should’ve finished our chances. Soccer is the kind of game where if you don’t finish your chances, it’s going to come back to haunt you.”
The Owls ended the night with 21 shots but only put four on goal. Senior forward and midfielder Joonas Jokinen knocked in a penalty kick in the 35th minute of the game thanks to a St. Joe’s penalty and the subsequent red card that ejected Hawks senior goalkeeper Greg O’Connell from the game. The Hawks subbed in senior goalie Trevor Nicol to take his place and had to use 10 players for the remainder of the game.
“After they had a player ejected, we had possession of the ball for 99 percent of the second half,” MacWilliams said. “We weren’t able to capitalize, and they got one shot and were able to score.”
The Hawks extended their lead to a two-goal advantage when senior midfielder Matt Crawford scored his third goal of the game in the 76th minute. Redshirt-senior goalkeeper Alex Cagle ended the game with two saves on five shots on goal. Meanwhile, Temple failed to score on 14 shots in the second half.
One key component was missing from Temple’s offense, as the Owls no longer have forward Jorge Gomez Sanchez. He was the most productive member of Temple’s offense in 2016, averaging 0.77 goals per game and ending the 18-game season with 14 goals.
“The last two years, we had the luxury of having Jorge Gomez Sanchez, who would score goals in almost every game,” MacWilliams said. “We need other guys to step up for us. We need five or six guys that are capable of scoring.”
While Temple’s offense struggled to convert shots to goals, the defense made a few mistakes of its own. MacWilliams credited some of the mishaps to poor decision-making by a young team. Players didn’t always mark their opponents and defenders weren’t blocking shots. He also said that balls that should’ve been cleared up the field were being passed instead.
Several of these small mistakes led to better opportunities for the Hawks and helped them to victory.
Temple’s next game is on Tuesday on the road against Villanova. The Owls play five of their first six games on the road.
“We’ve got to get after it again on Tuesday,” MacWilliams said. “We need to find a way to get that win.”