Home cooking is no help for soccer

The soccer team has been inconsistent all season, alternating wins and losses.

The soccer team has been inconsistent all season, alternating wins and losses.

The women’s soccer team is finally home.

After an nine-game road schedule that stretched from Johnson City, Tenn., to Orono, Maine, the team returned to action at the Ambler Soccer Complex on Friday. Coach David Jones and his squad came into the game confident that they were ready for the final stretch of the Atlantic Ten Conference schedule.

“When we made the schedule two years ago, we knew there would be a month-long road trip,” Jones said. “I had hope the non-conference play would help prepare us for the A-10 schedule.”

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Junior forward Niki Conn dribbles the ball around a St. Joseph’s defender in Friday’s game. The Owls lost, 2-1. THO NGUYEN TTN

The result was a 2-1 loss against cross-city rival St. Joseph’s. The Owls fell to 5-7-1 overall and 0-2-1 in the A-10.

The Owls’ play has been inconsistent all season. In their first 10 games of the season, they alternated wins and losses en route to a 5-5 record. They are winless in their last three games.

Temple has been able to find ways to score, but the defense, which let the Owls down early against the Hawks, has been struggling.

“We really did play well, but we put ourselves in a hole with the first goal,” Jones said.

The Hawks scored in the third minute after a turnover in the defense. Hawks junior forward Maggie Lupinksi intercepted a pass and chipped a shot past Owls’ junior goalkeeper Tara Murphy to give the Hawks an early 1-0 advantage.

The Owls had a chance to respond in the first half, but junior midfielder Alicia Yurkovic’s shot was wide, and the team still trailed, 1-0, at half.

After the game, Jones said he saw “some of best soccer we have played all season.”

Each team had several opportunities to seize control of the game, but the Hawks struck first. In the 73rd minute, Lupinski found freshman forward Mo Hawkins behind the defense, and Hawkins tucked the ball past Murphy for a 2-0 lead.

The Owls scored a goal in the 87th minute. Sophomore midfielder Jackie Krostek found Yurkovic in front of goal, and Yurkovic’s shot found the right corner.

The game was almost level in the final moments, as junior forward Niki Conn had a chance inside the box, but her attempt at a goal was blocked and cleared to seal the win for the Hawks.

“Our offense has done enough [to] win,” Jones said. “We need to get better play in the back.”

Friday’s matchup against the Hawks was the Owls’ first action at home in a month. The Owls ended their nine-game road trip with a 3-5-1 record.

Adding to the team’s inconsistent play are recent injuries at the goalkeeper position, which forced Jones to rotate the goal-keeping duties this season. Murphy started the game against St. Joe’s, but sophomore Gillian Kacsuta and senior Kara Williams also received playing time this season.

“Everyone has been given an opportunity because of injuries and things,” Jones said. “You would like to have that position set so we’re waiting for someone to get hot.”

The Owls are first in the A-10 in goals scored and the lone team that averages more than two goals per game. In 13 games, Conn leads the team with eight goals and four assists. Conn is tied for second in the A-10 with 20 points and third in goals scored. The Yurkovic sisters, Alicia and sophomore forward Kate, have each contributed five goals and four assists.

The Cherry and White will play four of their final six games at home, including a pair of games this weekend. Dayton, undefeated (3-0) in conference play, will be at Ambler on Friday, Oct. 15. The Owls follow that contest with Xavier on Sunday, Oct. 17.

Joe Serpico can be reached at gserpico@temple.edu.

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