While playing in sunny, humid, 90 degree weather, the turf on the new Temple Sports Complex only compounded the heat.
Though Temple beat Big 5 rival St. Joseph’s 2-0, the weather was an obstacle for the team to overcome.
“In the heat, it’s obviously a lot hotter playing on turf than it is on grass,” coach David MacWilliams said. “I think the guys struggled with it today, and we talked about it at halftime, and they did a good job in the second half.”
The Owls scored both of their goals in the second half. Junior midfielder/forward Joonas Jokinen scored his second goal in as many games in the 66th minute off a pass from senior midfielder Jorge Gomez Sanchez.
“Joonas is a great player,” MacWilliams said. “He’s a very talented player, he makes great runs, he’s a good finisher, and we’ve just got to make sure we keep him healthy.”
Gomez Sanchez also notched his second goal of the season off a penalty kick in the 80th minute after he drew a foul in the box.
Temple’s front line initially struggled, as they were matched up against the Hawks’ four six-foot-one defenders. Gomez Sanchez and Jokinen, who both stand shorter than six feet tall, adjusted to the height difference and each added a point to Temple’s total.
“You’ve just got to keep moving,” Jokinen said. “You’ve got to make it difficult for them. Stay on their shoulders, stay behind them. You can’t let them use their physicality as much against you.”
The Owls finished the game with 19 shots, five each for Gomez Sanchez and Jokinen, and redshirt-junior goalkeeper Alex Cagle ended the day with one save. Saint Joe’s had five shots.
In the end, MacWilliams believes the outcome of the game came down to endurance. Temple was able to set the pace, and towards the end, the Hawks struggled to keep up.
“The coaches have done a pretty good job getting us in shape over preseason,” sophomore midfielder/forward Jordan Wix-Rauch said. “It is very hot out there, needless to say, but I think we were better off than them towards the end of the game, so that’s a sign that we’ve been doing well so far with preparation.”
The Owls played 11 substitutes, compared to the Hawks’ three. The change of players allowed Temple to stay fresh and outlast Saint Joe’s. The team feels confident in its back-ups.
“You could tell they tired out towards the end,” Jokinen said. “It helped us a lot, and you can see that a lot of us were getting tired, but we had good depth in our team. And our substitutes did a great job, so it made it easier for us.”
Maura Razanauskas can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @CaptainAMAURAca