Late goal delays first A-10 win, but coach remains optimistic

Sunday
Richmond 2
Temple 1

An uphill battle.About this time every year since 1995, the women’s soccer team has struggled to maintain its footing.

And this season has turned out to be no different.

Two games into its Atlantic Ten Conference schedule, Temple has already dug itself a hole from which it might have a difficult time climbing out.

The Owls dropped a 2-1 contest Sunday afternoon at Richmond’s First Market Stadium, the result of a goal in the 81st minute by the Spiders’ Jen Ruhe.

Three losses in one week – coupled with a two-game skid to start conference play – have the Owls reeling.

Coach David Jones, who remains confident about the Owls (3-8) making the A-10 tournament for the first time since 1995, was stung by his team’s loss to Richmond (1-8-2), which entered the game without a win in its previous 10 matches.

“It’s tough because you know, at the end of the day, you played well against three good teams. And we hung in there,” Jones said.Seventy-three minutes had elapsed, and the Owls and Spiders remained in a scoreless battle. That was, until Richmond’s Nora Mann got the scoring going by pushing a shot past Temple goalkeeper Liz Tarasevich.

In the 82d minute, the Owls recorded the equalizing goal.

Senior midfielder Elena Hekimian found the back of the net on a pass from junior defender Kersha Walker, tying the game at one goal apiece.

The assist extended Walker’s team-leading
points total to eight and gave the Owls hope – albeit short-lived – of winning their first A-10 contest of the season.Less than 90 seconds later, those hopes were dashed.

Ruhe, who had earlier assisted on Richmond’s other goal, raced down the left sideline to knock in the first goal of her college career, which proved to be the game-winner.

“That goal was a mistake at midfield where one of our girls won the ball but couldn’t recover,” Jones said. “Ruhe had a 45-yard breakaway and what was our keeper [Liz Tarasevich] going to do there?”

Three losses in one week did not help Temple’s quest for its first postseason berth in 11 seasons.

Neither does an 0-2 record against A-10 teams.But Jones and the Owls were encouraged by a strong performance Sunday at Richmond, the fourth-year coach said.The Owls have won just four games in each of their last three seasons, dating back to 2003. Jones said he felt Sunday’s match could have been the Owls’ fourth this season.

That fourth win could come Friday, when the Owls will look to rebound as they take on Saint Joseph’s at 7 p.m. on Hawk Hill.”It’s our only game of the weekend, so we can put all our eggs in one basket,” he said.

With seven games left on their schedule, the Owls have plenty of time to recover and clinch a playoff spot. Five of those matches will be played in Philadelphia. So if ever the Owls needed to establish a home-field advantage, now would be the time, Jones said.

“We’ve turned a corner. I know we have. The girls know they have,” Jones said. “Now we just have to make it happen for ourselves.”

Christopher A. Vito can be reached at christopher.vito@temple.edu.

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