Delaware’s Guillermo Delgado entered Wednesday afternoon’s match against Temple as the Colonial Athletic Association’s preseason player of the year, according to a conference coaches poll.
In the 13th minute, he showed why this designation was well-deserved.
Senior Blue Hen defender Tobias Müller knocked the ball forward to junior midfielder Joe Dipre, who then crossed it from the right-hand side of the field.
Delgado capped a good run with an even better finish, one-timing the volley out of mid-air, giving senior Temple goalie Dan Scheck no chance. The ball hit the underside of the crossbar and hit the back of the net for the sophomore midfielder’s seventh goal of the season, placing him fourth in NCAA Division I in that category.
The opening score was part of a 3-0 victory for Delaware over Temple, which improves the Blue Hens’ record to 7-2. Meanwhile, the Owls were shut out for a third consecutive match and fell to 1-6-1.
For much of the opening 15-20 minutes, the Blue Hens dominated possession and spent most of their time in Temple’s half. Delgado’s goal was the pinnacle of the period, as he was able to capitalize on the first solid chance he saw in the game.
Coach David MacWilliams said Delgado’s finishing ability continues to be exactly what Temple has lacked up to this point.
“I think [Delgado] got free once in the first 15 or 20 minutes, and it’s in the back of [our] net,” MacWilliams said. “We’re getting guys who are free, who are getting three or four chances and we can’t bury one.”
Temple picked up after Delgado’s tally, though. The Owls possessed the ball better, pushed their attacking line higher up, and outshot the Blue Hens 5-4 by the end of the first half.
The crucial moment for Temple to turn the match came in the 27th minute. Junior midfielder/forward Jared Martinelli was able to draw Blue Hen senior goalie Boria Barbero off his line, and then avoided him to create the Owls’ best scoring chance of the match on an open net.
By the end of the sequence, Martinelli had sent a shot curving just outside the left post.
“I still don’t know how he missed it,” MacWilliams said of the chance. “He’s kind of snake-bitten right now. I think it’s a thing [when] I was a forward. Once you get the next one, then they start coming in bunches. That’s what we’re hoping.”
In the second half, Temple continued to hang with the Blue Hens, even though they surrendered two late goals. Müller scored the second off a right-hand corner kick from senior midfielder Ben Asante in the 78th minute. Asante collected another assist seven minutes later, when he found sophomore midfielder Jaime Martinez just outside the penalty box on the right wing.
Martinez collected himself, and added another clinical Delaware goal to the day by launching a shot that hit the left post before landing in Temple’s net, capping the scoring.
Despite the score line, Temple’s play was significantly better than their performance against the University of Pennsylvania on Sunday. One reason this occurred was because one of its captains, goalie Dan Scheck, was back in net.
If not for Scheck’s six saves, the game could have been uglier. Delgado had another chance to score in the 72nd minute, but Scheck denied him with a diving save to the near post.
Senior midfielder Willie Chalfant said the Sayville, New York native helps keep the whole team composed throughout the entire match.
“He keeps us going,” Chalfant said. “He starts everything out of the back, keeps us situated … Regardless of the score today, he made some good saves.”
American Athletic Conference play starts for Temple on Saturday against Cincinnati on Saturday. In order for Temple to improve, MacWilliams said his team needs to share the ball more, move it more quickly and finish the job in the final third of the field.
Now, the importance of conference play being a “second season” is paramount for Temple. The Owls’ other captain, sophomore defender Robert Sagel, alluded to a phrase he said fellow-sophomore defender Matt Mahoney stated before the match against Penn on Sunday.
“The biggest thing we have to keep in mind is we’re 0-0 in conference [play], and it’s a clean slate,” Sagel said. “We’re looking forward to it.”
The Blue Hens snapped a two-game losing streak, both of which came against ranked teams (No. 15 California, No. 24 Stanford) … Temple sophomore defender Stefan Mueller has missed the past two matches because of stomach pain, according to MacWilliams. When he will return is uncertain … Martinez’s goal gives him four on the year, second behind Delgado on Delaware’s squad.
Steve Bohnel can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @SteveSportsGuy1.