When sophomore midfielder Jordan Wix Rauch fired the tying goal into the back of the net with three minutes, 27 seconds left in Saturday night’s game, he may have saved the Owls’ season.
“Someone played a ball into the box,” Wix Rauch said. “I luckily put it into the corner. Everything was a flash after that.”
Wix Rauch’s first goal of the year allowed the Owls (9-5-2, 1-2-2 American Athletic Conference) to salvage a 1-1 draw against Tulsa in double overtime at the Temple Sports Complex. With the draw, the Owls’ chances to play in the conference tournament stay alive. A loss would have resulted in elimination.
“It was just a bunch of relief,” redshirt-junior goalkeeper Alex Cagle said. “We had so many chances, especially in that second half. Just from back there watching it go in it was great.”
Tulsa got on the board in the sixth minute when a mistake from the usually sound Temple backline allowed a breakaway shot by junior midfielder Kay Duit to put the Golden Hurricane ahead.
Temple locked down defensively for the rest of the game, allowing no more shots in the first half and only seven in regulation. Cagle, who only had to make two saves in the game, spoke highly of his squad’s back line.
“I think we have one of the best defenses in the country,” Cagle said. “Once that goal went in we all focused up and really started communicating a lot more, and from there it was a lot easier to secure the back and they didn’t have too many chances.”
The Owls offense produced 19 shots in regulation, but only one found its way past the keeper.
The team has scored three goals in its last four games.
“That’s been the story of the last few games,” coach David MacWilliams said. “We’re outshooting everybody that we play against, but it’s about execution. It’s about finishing in the box and taking our chances, and I don’t think we’ve done that as well as we should.”
Both sides had a few quality chances in two sudden-death overtime periods but could not capitalize. The Owls, who were relieved about salvaging a point from the draw, were still dissatisfied by not winning.
“We weren’t exactly happy to come away with a tie,” Wix Rauch said. “It’s a point in conference which is always tough to get, but we definitely felt we could have won that game.”
The Owls faced a bit of a scare when senior midfielder Kevin Klett tripped while chasing a defender. Klett needed to be assisted by two trainers to leave the field. However, Klett was cleared by the training staff at halftime and returned to the game with just 12:50 left in the second half.
The draw extended the Owls’ undefeated home streak, making their record 7-0-2 in North Philadelphia. It also means their playoff chances are still alive. Temple is one point behind fifth-place Central Florida, the team’s next opponent, and two points behind Tulsa.
The top four teams in The American qualify for the conference tournament.
“We’re going to keep going, we’re going to keep battling,” MacWilliams said. “We’ve just got to finish our chances.”
Graham Foley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @graham_foley3.