In their second road game in four days, the Owls beat Penn State 1-0 at Jeffrey Field on Tuesday.
Temple (6-3, 0-1 American Athletic Conference) held the Nittany Lions scoreless, which allowed senior midfielder Jorge Gomez Sanchez’s goal, assisted by junior midfielder/forward Joonas Jokinen, in the 84th minute to be the game-winner. This is the 10th goal for Gomez Sanchez this season.
“I think it went great,” head coach David MacWilliams said. “Obviously, we had heavy legs since we played Saturday and traveled both days, so we knew we had to keep the game tight early on.”
After a lackluster first half, the Owls made several tactical changes for the second period of play. They ended the game with 15 shots, 11 of which came in the second half. They also created more scoring opportunities through set pieces, taking all seven corner kicks of the night in the last 45 minutes.
The Owls’ defense had a busy night, facing 11 shots from Penn State. Redshirt-junior goalkeeper Alex Cagle finished the night with nine saves and notched his fifth shutout of the season.
While the goal from Gomez Sanchez was a vital part of the Owls’ victory, MacWilliams recognizes the role of the defense in the win.
“I thought Stefan Mueller had a great game,” MacWilliams said. “Our backline also did tremendous. It was just a really good team effort.”
Temple’s backline usually consists of defenders senior Carlos Moros Gracia and redshirt-junior Mark Grasela, as well as junior midfielder Brendon Creed. A lot of the Owls’ plays start with the backline, particularly in the second half when the defense pressured Penn State more often and more aggressively.
The Owls won the game despite missing two starters. Senior midfielder Kevin Klett, who started every game before Tuesday, and sophomore midfielder Hermann Doerner, who has started five of the seven games he has played in, both sat with injury.
Moving forward, Temple hopes to have everyone available when the team continues conference play. The Owls lost their first conference game against Connecticut 1-0, and will take on Memphis in an American Athletic Conference matchup on Saturday.
“I know it’s going to be a tough transition,” MacWilliams said. “We’ve had a mid-week game and Memphis will be a tough team.”
Maura Razanauskas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @CaptainAMAURAca.