The crowd of more than 600 people at the Temple Sports Complex collectively gasped as a Penn State forward launched a shot toward sophomore goalkeeper Michael Samnik in the 58th minute.
Samnik made a leaning jump and deflected the shot wide for his first of three saves Wednesday night. As the crowd cheered, junior midfielder Belal Mohamed ran to the net to give Samnik a high five.
“Actually, it was kind of nice,” Samnik said. “It calms your nerves a little bit once you make your first save. …For the first half, I didn’t really get tested, so it felt good.”
Samnik started his first game at home and earned his first collegiate shutout in Temple’s 3-0 victory against Penn State.
Temple’s (3-5-1, 0-1 American Athletic Conference) first goal came just more than three minutes into the game from freshman forward Alan Camacho Soto. The goal, assisted by junior midfielder Hermann Doerner, was the first of his career.
Camacho Soto’s goal is the second-quickest tally for Temple this season. Sophomore forward Thibault Candia scored 43 seconds into Temple’s win against Duquesne University on Sept. 19.
“We scored early, and I just think we built off of that momentum and that energy,” coach David MacWilliams said. “You don’t get a lot of chances in the college games, so you’ve got to be able to take advantage of them when you do get them.”
The Nittany Lions outshot Temple 16-12, but the Owls had the advantage in shots on goal. Six of Temple’s shots were on goal compared to Penn State’s three.
Candia accounted for three of Temple’s shots on goal and two of the team’s goals. Candia now leads the Owls in goals with four. He has scored all four of his goals in the past three games.
“I feel good,” Candia said. “I have the desire to keep on scoring because the last four games, I scored maybe six goals, but only four goals were valid because of offsides calls that were not offsides. But I feel very good today and very proud because the team played well and made me feel very, very confident.”
Throughout Candia’s first five games, he played left winger. After talking to the coaching staff, Candia switched to the 10 position — located between the central midfielders and strikers — which gives him more freedom on the field. Since switching positions, Candia has scored four goals and recorded 13 shots.
“I have more access to the field now,” Candia said. “When you play left winger, you are just on the wide, maybe less impact on the game. You can have impact, but you touch less balls. So I feel better now because I played this position for the most part of my life, so I am closer to the goal and can score, make assists and shots.”
Doerner and redshirt-senior defender Mark Grasela recorded assists on Candia’s goals.
Nineteen players on Temple’s 31-man roster saw action. The early scoring influenced MacWilliams’ decision, but he planned to rotate players anyway.
“We’ve got a lot of games in a short amount of time, and we wanted to make sure that we spread it out tonight,” MacWilliams said. “Fortunately, we scored some goals, so it made it a little easier. But yeah we’ve got some depth, so obviously they play well and they deserve it.”
Temple returns to American Athletic Conference play on Saturday against Memphis where the Owls will look to win their first conference game.