Bryce Clark only took one shot all game.
But his lone shot was the game-winner as American Athletic Conference opponent Southern Methodist beat Temple 2-1 in overtime Saturday afternoon at the Ambler Sports Complex.
The Mustangs’ freshman midfielder received a pass from junior midfielder John Lujano about 25 yards out from goal on the right side of the field. Clark turned, took one touch and drilled the ball past Temple’s senior goalie Dan Scheck, finding the left-hand corner for his first goal of the season.
The game-deciding score came in the last minute of the first 10-minute overtime period. SMU started the scoring in a similar fashion, as redshirt-senior midfielder Damian Rosales tapped home a cross from freshman forward Mauro Cichero in the closing two minutes of the first half.
Coach David MacWilliams said allowing goals at the beginning and end of halves continues to be an issue for his squad after 12 matches this fall.
“Our crux is giving up goals late,” MacWilliams said. “We’ve consistently done this, and that’s just discipline. Give [Clark] credit, it was a great goal. It wasn’t like we gave him the goal. [He] was wide open, but he hit it [well].”
The Owls came out slow in the first half, as SMU led in shots 6-0, corners 4-0, and spent much of the opening 45 minutes in Temple’s half. MacWilliams said giving a team of SMU’s caliber too much time allowed the first half to be as one-sided as the statistics showed.
“We gave them way too much time on the ball,” MacWilliams said. “They basically were able to do whatever they wanted the first half.”
At halftime, MacWilliams told his team to press higher up the field, and he also made some formation changes to try and create some offense in the next 45 minutes.
10 minutes into the second half, the Owls converted on one of the few opportunities they had generated up to that point. Junior midfielder/forward made a run up the right side, and crossed the ball to freshman forward Olli Tynkkynen, who slipped as he was taking the shot about eight yards away from goal.
But Tynkkynen kept his composure and slotted the ball over SMU redshirt-freshman goalie Michael Nelson, tying both the score at 1-1 and redshirt-senior Chas Wilson as the team’s leading goal-scorer with three of them.
Once the match was leveled, Temple picked up the intensity, possessing the ball in SMU’s half and generating more chances on net. The Owls were also strong defensively, breaking up many of the Mustangs’ attacks up before they could reach Scheck.
A big part of the back line’s effort was the play of redshirt-freshman defender Mark Grasela. Grasela disrupted many of SMU’s attacks in the final third, and used his physicality to give the Mustangs problems on the offensive end.
Grasela said his physical nature of play is how he’s always competed in the sport.
“Growing up, I always wanted to get into it [physically],” Grasela said. “I wasn’t going to shy away from a tackle. I was going to get into it, get a challenge. And that was the game plan today, it was to hit [SMU] and let them know that we’re behind them.”
When Grasela and the defense couldn’t get the job done, Scheck stopped many of SMU’s shots from finding the net. The product out of Sayville, New York made 12 saves on Saturday, keeping his team in the match as the Mustangs continued to generate chances throughout.
Even with all his success, Scheck said he can’t pat himself on the back when his team loses.
“I don’t look at it like, [I made] 12 saves,” Scheck said. “My team was out there working … we all fought, it’s just very frustrating coming away with a loss like that after all that hard work.”
Time is ticking away for Temple, who have yet to win their third match of the season. The team will look for it when it travels to New Haven, Connecticut to face Yale on Tuesday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
MacWilliams admitted this has been one of the hardest seasons in his 15 years at Temple, because of how inconsistent his squad has played, and the level of competition across the board.
“We really haven’t put things back-to-back, where you win, and then build from that,” MacWilliams said. “We win, then we lose or we tie … and it’s a very competitive conference, and we’ve played some competitive teams this year.”
With Clark’s game-winner, 12 different players have now scored for SMU … Tynkkynen’s goal was his first since he scored a pair in the Owls’ 3-0 win against Sacramento State on Aug. 31 … Scheck’s 12 save-performance is a career-high here at Temple … Martinelli received the lone yellow card of the game in the final minute of regulation … Temple dropped to 2-8-2 (1-2-1 the American) after the loss, while SMU improved to 7-3-1 (3-0-1 the American).