Last-minute, corner-kick goal beats Temple women’s soccer

Saint Joseph’s scored two goals off corner kicks, including one in the 90th minute, to beat Temple, 2-1, on Friday at the Temple Sports Complex.

Saint Joseph's sophomore forward Morgan Bower (left) scores the game-winning goal for the Hawks in their 2-1 win against Temple on Friday at the Temple Sports Complex. | LUKE SMITH / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Coach Seamus O’Connor held a post-game film session with his players on Friday.

The Owls reviewed Saint Joseph’s last corner-kick opportunity at the Temple Sports Complex. The Hawks scored with less than 30 seconds remaining in regulation to earn a 2-1 victory in the season opener for both teams.

A review of the play showed that sophomore defender Natalie Druehl cleared the Hawks’ first attempt off the goal line, O’Connor said. Then, as senior defender Kelcie Dolan was about to head the ball to safety and ensure overtime, junior goalkeeper Morgan Basileo tried to punch the ball away. It caromed off Dolan to Saint Joseph’s sophomore forward Morgan Bower, who scored the game-winner.

“To come away with a loss from a game that you totally dominate, out-possess them, have much better chances and then to lose on set plays like that is hard because it’s not tactics,” O’Connor said. “It’s just doing your job.”

“That was easily defendable,” O’Connor added. “There was three fouls on the play he could have called. You can’t leave it up to the ref to call those. So, we had players stop playing because they got fouled. That’s crap. You’ve got to keep playing to the whistle. …I don’t care if she’s got your shirt over her head, you keep fighting for the ball, and that’s what they just have to learn.”

Saint Joseph’s scored both its goals off corners. In the 18th minute, Hawks freshman defender Mackenzie Ehresman put a header past Basileo at the far post. Saint Joseph’s senior defender Paige Bergman took the corner for the Hawks and assisted the goal. She moved into a first-place tie with former Hawk Ellen Stenrud for the most assists in program history with 18.

Hawks senior goalkeeper Grace Bendon earned her 20th career win. Her counterpart, Basileo, made 17 saves, seven more than her previous single-game high of 10 on Oct. 8, 2017, against Tulsa.

Temple had to change its formation in the second half when sophomore defender Aisha Brown left the game with cramps to both legs in the 57th minute. Brown started the game at outside back and led Temple in minutes played last season.

O’Connor brought junior forward Morgan Morocco into the game for Brown and moved sophomore defender Marissa DiGenova to the back line. The move hurt the Owls, O’Connor said, because DiGenova had created chances as an outside midfielder in the first half.

She led Temple with five shots, two of which were on target, and her pass nearly set up a game-tying goal by senior forward Kerri McGinley with less than 15 minutes to go in the first half.

Hawks junior forward Gabrielle Vagnozzi (center) dribbles while being defended by sophomore defender Marissa DiGenova in Saint Joseph’s 2-1 win on Friday at the Temple Sports Complex. | LUKE SMITH / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple also played without senior midfielder Juliet Esposito, who played all 18 games and made 14 starts last season. She injured one of her hamstrings this week, and the staff doesn’t want to rush her return, O’Connor said.

The Owls fared well without Esposito, except for defending corner kicks, O’Connor said.

“She is Superwoman, but every now and again Superwoman gets hurt, too,” he said. “So we just can’t say, ‘OK, Juliet would head that out, because she does usually cover that back area and head everything the heck out.’”

Temple never led, but junior forward Jules Blank said the Owls played “probably the best soccer” she has seen during her career.

Blank delivered a corner kick that nearly led to the go-ahead goal, but junior defender Emily Keitel’s header was cleared off the goal line by a Hawks defender.

Blank scored the Owls’ lone goal and the first of her career after missing all of last season. She took a shot off her right foot near the top of the 18-yard box and put it in the top right corner.

Freshman midfielder Hailey Gutowski entered as a substitute for 11 minutes in the second half and set up the play.

“Once the ball shifted to the opposite side, I filled the gap and made the run in and then made a cutback and Jules finished my cutback there,” Gutowski said.

“If we would have came out on top, that would have been the perfect first goal I think,” Blank said.

Temple’s next game is on Aug. 24 at home against Sacred Heart University, which lost its season opener on Friday against Iona College.

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