Men’s soccer ties Penn in evenly matched game

Temple picked up its fourth tie of the season after 120 scoreless minutes on Tuesday at the Temple Sports Complex

Freshman midfielder Andres Charles-Barrera fights for possession in Temple's double overtime tie with Penn on Tuesday at the Temple Sports Complex. | JUSTIN OAKES / THE TEMPLE NEWS

With 26 seconds remaining in the second period of overtime, senior midfielder Belal Mohamed’s shot found the back of the net. The Owls started celebrating.

However, seconds later, the referee’s whistle blew and the attention was drawn to the assistant’s raised flag. The last-second goal was called offsides and the cheers subsided.

The score remained tied at zero and time expired, handing the Owls (4-8-4, 1-3-1 American Athletic Conference) their fourth tie of the season against Penn on Tuesday night at the Temple Sports Complex.

“When it goes in, you look around and you hope that there isn’t anything pulling it back,” coach Brian Rowland said. “Certainly, we had opportunities before that, that I think we could’ve scored.”

This is the second game in a row for Temple where a goal in the final minutes was called back. In their last game against Connecticut, the Owls thought they scored the tying goal with less than a minute remaining, but it was called back due to a Temple foul against the Huskies’ goalkeeper.

These last-minute misfortunes led, in part, to a five-game winless streak. The Owls haven’t won a game since Oct. 3 when they beat the New Jersey Institute of Technology 3-1. Despite this streak, Temple is not concerned about moving back into conference play.

“They’re a very difficult team to break down and their record shows that they make it tough,” Rowland said. “So from that standpoint, I thought we created chances, I thought we carried the play, but we just couldn’t find the breakthrough. I think we’ll learn some things from the game and we’ll move on.”

The majority of Temple’s chances came in the second half and overtime. The Owls recorded just two shots in the first half, then eight in the second and four in the first overtime period, ending with 14 shots, nine of them on goal. Penn had two more shots than the Owls with 16 of their own, but just six were on target.

Junior goalkeeper Simon Lefebvre ended the night with six saves, the second-most he has made in a game this season. This marked Lefebvre’s third shutout this year.

“We played well defensively, we didn’t give them rarely any chances, we were solid keeping the ball, possessing the ball,” junior forward Lukas Fernandes said. “We created a lot of chances, but just unlucky in the final third.”

The entirety of Temple’s shots came from three players. Fernandes recorded 10 shots, seven of which were on target, notching a season-high in both categories. Senior midfielder Hermann Doerner shot three, two of which were on goal, while freshman midfielder Andres Charles-Barrera had one shot.

“I wasn’t surprised that Lukas was getting on the ball and creating,” Rowland said. “It would have been nice to get something more from those attacks, but it didn’t surprise me that he was connecting for us.”

Both teams have had extensive experience with overtime this season. Eight of Temple’s games have gone to overtime while Penn has gone to extra time nine times this season.

“Penn was really organized defensively,” Doerner said. “It was difficult to break them down. I think we had some chances, but we couldn’t capitalize and in a game like that, Penn I think played nine overtimes already this season, so I think it was obvious that it’s going to be a difficult game.”

The Owls will face The American opponent Tulsa University next, on Saturday at the Temple Sports Complex. Temple must place in the top six teams in the conference to make the postseason tournament, and rank sixth currently. Tulsa is just below them in the standings, with one less point.

“We’re excited,” Fernandes said. “We know how important of a game it is. It’s basically a final for us, we’re treating it like as so, so we’ve got to come in hot.”

“We know what the game means for us, for our season, and we’re definitely excited because we know we can compete with everyone in the conference,” Doerner said. “We know if we win, then we’re most likely in the tournament, so I think we go in the game with confidence, especially because it’s a home game, senior night, too, so the old guys have their last home game. But no, definitely excited, and we’re ready.”

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