The Owls’ road trip came to an abrupt end Wednesday afternoon.
At Jack Coffey Field in the Bronx, New York, Temple had been deadlocked in a scoreless match with Fordham for just less than 100 minutes of action.
Then, with just more than 20 seconds left in the first golden-goal extra-time period, the ball found its way to Temple’s penalty box. Senior goalkeeper Dan Scheck raced off his line as he has done many times in his collegiate career.
Scheck slid and won the ball against a Fordham attacker, but trailing behind the play was sophomore defender Robert Sagel. In a strange sequence of events, Sagel shoved Fordham forward Andres Penfold down in the box, resulting in a Rams penalty kick.
The senior from Scarsdale, N.Y. proceeded to bury the penalty in the upper left-hand corner, earning his fifth goal of the year and giving Fordham their third win in four matches.
Coach David MacWilliams was impressed in how Fordham was able to defend the entire match. Temple outshot Fordham 10-3 in the first half, creating many chances in the game’s final third, but never finding the final touch to score.
“Fordham’s always a tough team to break down,” MacWilliams said. “[Coach] Jimmy [McEldberry] gets his teams in positions to win games. [They’re] very solid defensively and we knew it was going to be tough to score.”
After the first half, Fordham slowly battled their way back. They outshot Temple 12-6 during the second half and overtime, and earned six corners in that same amount of time.
But like the Owls, the Rams never found that crucial final touch to put the ball in the net. Ultimately, neither team found that linking pass or finishing strike, as the game was decided from the penalty spot.
Scheck didn’t blame Sagel for the foul that led to Penfold’s penalty. In fact, he defended him.
“Sagel had my back, as he should,” Scheck said. “There was nothing he could do about it … and the [referee] unfortunately put the game into his hands.”
The official, Ayodeji Obisesan, had been calling a tight game all match, resulting in four yellow cards and 19 fouls. Whether the pivotal call he made in the 99th minute was correct or not, Temple failed to capitalize on any of the four corners or 16 shots they accumulated over three periods of play.
Sophomore midfielder Dan White said that the lack of finishing goals off is Temple’s biggest flaw thus far this year.
“It’s the final ball that we need,” White said. “We just have to pick a man out [in the final third], and once we have that we’ll see improvement.”
One reason the Owls were shut out for the third time this fall was the effort of Fordham senior goalie Sean Brailey. The Massapequa, New York native racked up seven saves in the victory, the most important of which came in the 39th minute.
Temple’s freshman forward Olli Tynkkynen took a free kick from just outside the penalty box. The ball was destined to be a goal at the far post, but Brailey dove and punched the ball away for what turned out to be the best save in the match.
The free kick was a result of Joonas Jokinen, Temple’s other freshman forward out of Finland. Jokinen streaked up the left sideline and was clipped from behind, resulting in a yellow card on Fordham’s Tommy Garnot.
More importantly, Jokinen was injured on the play, and had to be helped off the field. He never returned for the rest of the match.
It could be a huge blow for the Owls going forward without him, given their offensive struggles. MacWilliams said that these struggles are what have killing his team this fall.
“We just have to finish chances,” MacWilliams said. “We have to get balls on frame. I don’t think we’re getting enough quality shots.”
Temple returns home to Ambler Sports Complex for a Philadelphia Soccer Six matchup Sunday at 3 p.m. against the University of Pennsylvania.
Steve Bohnel can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @SteveSportsGuy1.