Sophomore Vaughn Spurrier strikes first for the Owls in win.
After starting 14 games in his first season at Temple last year, sophomore striker Vaughn Spurrier is again a regular for the Owls and is still progressing as a player.
Spurrier looked like he was coming along just fine Saturday as he had a breakout game to help Temple defeat city rival St. Joseph’s by a score of 2-0, improving the Owl’s Atlantic Ten Conference record to 2-1.
Spurrier netted the game’s first goal in the seventh minute thanks to a crisp, low cross from senior midfielder Tyler Witmer, and some flashy play by Spurrier himself.
“[Witmer] got it out of the wing and made a great move to be able to cross it to me on the ground,” Spurrier said. “I beat a guy, volleyed it up with my left foot and was able to hit it with my right foot and get it past the goalie in the lower left corner.”
The goal allowed the Owls (6-6) to get on the board early and give them the advantage over the Hawks, who dropped their eighth consecutive game to put their record at 1-10.
“Getting on the board first was big and we had control for the most part during the first half,” coach David MacWilliams said. “We had good possession and some good opportunities throughout that whole half.”
However, it was the play of the Hawks’ junior goalkeeper Andrew D’Ottavi that kept the Owls from putting more than one goal on the scoreboard in the first 80 minutes.
“Their keeper was really good,” MacWilliams said. “We had a lot of chances throughout the game and we put a lot of pressure on them, but he made a lot of big saves that kept the game close.”
Temple provided the pressure as they had a season-high 23 shots in the game with nine of them on net. Meanwhile, Temple held St. Joseph’s to only five shots, with two of them testing Temple’s sophomore goalie Bobby Rosato. Spurrier had six of those shots for a game high and a renewed confidence for the sophomore.
Spurrier got into the mix again when he assisted Witmer’s goal in the 87th minute. He split two defenders on the outside and crossed it up for Witmer who then buried it on a header.
“[Spurrier] did all the work on that one,” Witmer said. “He made a fantastic play and put it up perfectly for me.”
“He’s been great for us,” MacWilliams said of Spurrier. “[Spurrier] can be a very dangerous player because he’s quick and has a knack of losing people out there. He’s playing well and just keeps getting better.”
Meanwhile, the goal came 80 minutes after the first one and put away a very hard-fought game all the way around for Temple.
“This was a good win for us,” MacWilliams said. “Our defense was especially solid all game and when they started to gain momentum and take control in the second half, we held them. A big goal that we wanted to achieve in this game was keeping them off of the scoreboard, and we did that.”
MacWilliams was referring to the second half where St. Joseph’s appeared to gain control.
“This was another game that was a tale of two halves,” MacWilliams added. “We had control of the first half and they took control for most of that second half. However, all across the board we stepped up as a team and prevented them from making anything big out of it.”
The win comes just six days after Temple was shut out by George Washington last Sunday, and also was very timely from a confidence perspective going into next weekend with games against Dayton and Xavier at home.
“Next weekend is going to be huge,” Witmer said. “We’re facing two good A-10 teams and both games are going to be battles. With Xavier, we lost twice against them last year and it would be huge for us to get a win against them and Dayton as well.”
Witmer is referring to an Xavier team that first beat Temple 3-2 in double overtime in the regular season last year, and then proceeded to knock Temple out of the postseason with a 1-0 win in the first round.
“We didn’t want to be 1-2 in the A-10 heading into next weekend,” MacWilliams said.
“Those are two good teams that we’re going to be playing, and we’ve put ourselves in a good position,” MacWilliams added. “I think we’re going to play them hard and we’ll see what happens.”
Spurrier, Witmer and the rest of the team will look to keep up the level of play that was displayed Saturday versus Xavier on Friday.
Drew Parent can be reached at email@example.com.