The crowd tensely held its breath. The collision in front of the goal appeared to be a vicious one, as a George Washington attacker crashed violently into Temple’s junior goalkeeper, Patrick Hannigan. Hannigan struggled to his feet, but minutes later he crumpled to one knee during a stoppage in play.
Blood gushed from his nose, and Owls coach Dave MacWilliams instructed his backup goalie to begin warming up in what turned out to be only a precautionary measure.
“Pat’s a pretty tough kid. Unless Pat’s head was falling off, he wasn’t coming out,” chuckled MacWilliams. “I was just concerned that we might have had to take him off because he was bleeding so badly.”
Hannigan, one of the best goalkeepers in the nation with a 0.38 goals against average, did not require a replacement and managed to complete the game as the Owls won their final home game of the season, 3-1, over GW on Senior Day last weekend.
The Owls (10-3-2, 6-1-1) were in a deadlocked tie with Atlantic Ten foe George Washington (5-10-1, 3-4-1) and Hannigan’s services were sorely needed. With the win the Owls avoided losing their second consecutive conference game after falling to Richmond 1-0 last Friday.
“With George Washington, we knew our backs were up against the wall,” MacWilliams said. “They still had an outside chance of getting into the A-10 tournament, so we knew it was going to be a physical game.”
The loss to Richmond was Temple’s only defeat within the conference, and the latest NSCAA Adidas Top 25 poll listed Temple among the teams receiving votes. Hannigan has been among the most brilliant goalkeepers in the nation, while the Nate Webb-Anthony Donatelli scoring threat has proven formidable.
MacWilliams’ willingness to make adjustments when needed and the maturation of his squad has let the Owls boast their best record since 1990.
The win was also a fitting farewell to Temple Stadium, which will no longer be used by the team after this season. The Owls, who are undefeated in away contests this year, finish their season with four road games. Next season, both the men’s and women’s teams will move to their new home on Temple’s Ambler campus.
“Obviously, home games are always better than away games when you’ve got your own crowd and everything behind you,” senior defenseman Tom Viglietti said. “It’s small, but it pumps you up and gets the adrenaline going, and that’s all we need. Plus, we’re having a good season, and that’s all I need.”
The Owls fell behind early when GW forward Jon Allen scored in the 23rd minute. The Owls maintained an aggressive tempo as freshman forward Ryan Heins insisted on attacking the heart of the George Washington defense again and again. His efforts paid off in the 44th minute, when the Owls leading scorer, sophomore Nate Webb, penetrated and assisted sophomore forward Anthony Donatelli’s fourth goal of the season to tie the score at 1-1.
George Washington seemed fired up by the tied score, but not in the way coach George Lidster probably would have hoped. Following Webb’s goal, the Colonials were hit with their second and third yellow cards of the day, allowing Temple to regroup and reestablish its game plan.
“We started off really flat and tried to adjust at halftime,” MacWilliams said. “We wanted to do a little interchanging up top with our forwards. They mixed it up a little bit, so we tried to mix it up a little bit.”
The Owls might have been just plain confused early in the second half when the Colonials had a 3-on-1 breakaway. It looked like a sure goal if not for the effort of Tony Viglietti. Viglietti deflected the ball out of bounds, saving the potential go-ahead goal.
“We had to come out big in the second half,” said Viglietti, playing the last game of his only season in an Owls’ uniform. “We were playing kind of locked up and on that play, I just had to get in the way of that. I wanted to do everything I could on my Senior Day.”
Minutes later, Webb and Donatelli struck again, this time with Donatelli assisting and Webb scoring, in the 75th minute. Sophomore Tim Greer delivered the dagger with his eighth goal of the season, stretching the lead.
The win added to one of the most memorable seasons for the Owls, who have kept pace with perennial top teams of the A-10 all season long. After the regular season they can look toward the A-10 Tournament.
Ben Watanabe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org