A stream of water sprayed out of Alex Cagle’s water bottle as he threw it down in frustration after giving up the second goal of the night.
The redshirt-senior goalkeeper had just been beat on a one-on-one breakaway by a Connecticut player with about 10 minutes left in the game. The Huskies’ second goal ensured their 2-0 defeat of the Owls on Saturday night at the Temple Sports Complex.
“I think it was a tough game, and we obviously didn’t get the result we wanted,” sophomore midfielder Nick Sarver said. “Unfortunately, we just couldn’t follow through, and it’s a tough loss, it really is.”
This game marked the first of seven American Athletic Conference contests for the Owls (2-5-1, 0-1 The American) this season. Temple is hoping to perform well enough to place in the top four spots in The American and qualify for the conference tournament. Coach David MacWilliams was “super disappointed” that the Owls opened conference play with a loss.
“We’ve got home games, we need to win those home games,” MacWilliams said. “I think we were just as good as they were, but they finished their chances.”
Temple outshot the Huskies 14-7 with seven on target compared to Connecticut’s four. Despite quality chances and confidence, gained in part from the team’s four goals on Tuesday against Duquesne University, the Owls’ scoring struggles remained.
Temple hasn’t scored a goal in four of its last five games.
The Owls thought they had caught a break in the 54th minute. Junior midfielder Belal Mohamed sent the ball to sophomore forward Thibault Candia, who shot it and found the back of the net. But the referee called the play offsides, negating the goal and bringing frustration to Temple’s fans, coaches and players on the sideline.
“I think the goal’s a goal,” MacWilliams said. “It changes things. I think we had a lot of the momentum at that time and it just kills the momentum, and again, I want to review the goal because obviously, I thought it was onsides.”
In addition to his near-goal, Candia led the team with four shots, two of which were on goal. Freshman forward Alan Camacho Soto finished the night with two shots in his second start as an Owl.
“I’m getting chances, and it’s going to come,” Camacho Soto said. “I thought we had way more possession than them, I thought we had more chances than them and I thought we dominated the second half. So I thought our team did well. We just couldn’t find a way to score today.”
While Temple knows converting scoring chances is important, the team is also trying to focus its defensive efforts. Despite keeping Connecticut’s shot count low, the Owls still allowed two goals. Cagle finished the night with two saves on four shots on goal.
“It is a little frustrating,” Sarver said of the team’s scoring difficulties. “But we also have to keep goals out of the back of the net, so that’s one thing we’ve got to improve on both sides.”
Regardless of the loss, MacWilliams believes his team performed well, especially because the Owls have historically struggled against Connecticut. Temple has never beat the Huskies in the seven matchups between the two teams.
“It’s just a different atmosphere for a conference game, there’s a lot more on the line,” Sarver said. “It’s just a lot different, a lot more competitive, a lot more physical, faster, so it’s just a higher level.”
The Owls take a short break from conference play when they face state rival Penn State at home on Wednesday.