Temple women’s soccer will make its first appearance in the American Athletic Conference tournament since 2015 on Wednesday.
The Owls (7-10-1, 3-5-1 The American) will face Central Florida (9-6-1, 6-3 The American) at 4:30 p.m. in a first-round matchup between No. 6 Temple and No. 3 UCF. South Florida, the No. 18 team in the United Soccer Coaches poll and the top seed in the tournament, will host the tournament.
To exceed in the conference play, Coach Seamus O’Connor said having a goalkeeper like junior Morgan Basileo is vital. Two teams from The American — USF and Memphis — are ranked in the top 25 of Division I in goals.
In the last five games Basileo started, she hasn’t allowed more than two goals in a game and recorded two shutouts. Basileo had 29 saves in that stretch and posted a .879 save percentage.
Temple earned seven of its 10 conference points in Basileo’s last five games. Temple beat Tulsa, 1-0 on Oct. 18.
Basileo was named the conference goalkeeper of the week after her performance in Temple’s 1-0 double-overtime win against USF on Sept. 30. Basileo recorded six saves against USF, which was ranked No. 19 at the time of the match.
The last time the Owls made The American’s tournament, they lost to UCF, 2-1, in the first round on Nov. 3, 2015. This season, the Knights beat Temple, 2-1, on Sept. 27 at the Temple Sports Complex.
Temple still qualified for the conference tournament, despite losing three of its last four games of the season. In those games, the Owls conceded three goals.
Basileo is looking to continue her success in goal. In 16 games this year, she has four shutouts, 92 saves and 18 goals allowed. Temple has six shutouts as a team, but Basileo did not finish the other two games.
Despite starting all but two games this season, Basileo does not take her starting role for granted.
She knows if she is having a bad game, senior Jordan Nash can step in.
Nash started 38 games from 2015-17 but has only started in two games this season — Sept. 9 against Boston College and Senior Day against No. 22 Memphis on Oct. 21.
Nash’s presence as a backup has pushed Basileo to work harder, O’Connor said.
“Fear is a great motivator,” O’Connor said. “A lot of Morgan’s success has been the fact that Jordan has pushed her so hard because she knows if she has a bad [game], Jordan is right there waiting. She’s never been able to get comfortable with being the starter.”
Last season, Basileo saved 69 shots, while allowing 21 goals in 14 games. She did not play during her freshman year.
Basileo credits her defensive teammates for a lot of her success this season. The Owls’ defenders include seniors Kelcie Dolan and Kat McCoy, junior Emily Keitel and sophomores Natalie Druehl, Marissa DiGenova and Aisha Brown.
“The way our backline plays, we’re all very much one unit,” Basileo said. “Having them sacrificing themselves, blocking shots and making my saves easier is all you can ask for as a goalie.”
Basileo’s 92 saves lead The American. Basileo is 20 saves ahead of Tulsa sophomore Mica Mackay, who is in second place.
Despite leading the conference in saves, Basileo is more focused on how successful the team can be going forward.
“I don’t really care about those kinds of stats,” Basileo said. “I want to see us do well as a whole.”