Non-conference match rekindles old rivalry

Temple’s 2-2 draw with former conference foe La Salle had intensity and tempers flaring Saturday.

Temple’s first match against La Salle since 2012 was rife with rain and physicality.

Rain started as soon as the match was underway. The former Atlantic 10 Conference and current Soccer Six rivals were essentially evenly matched, with La Salle and Temple sporting 0-3 and 1-3 records, respectively, entering the contest.

A sizable turnout was evidence to the fact that Temple and La Salle have had a storied history of competition. The rain didn’t succeed in keeping the crowd from seeing a match filled to the brim with energy and bickering.

Just 38 seconds in, sophomore midfielder Matt Robinson of La Salle tallied the first goal of the game. In the 32nd minute, junior midfielder Joe Farrell got one of his own and La Salle’s second.

The Owls’ backfield seemed out of tune and muddled their way through the first half.

“The biggest thing is starting off slow,” sophomore defenseman Robert Sagel said. “The same as with our last game against Duke, we came out a little bit soft, everyone wasn’t mentally in tune and we gave up two goals early.”

Struggling on both ends, Temple failed to record any shots on goal before halftime.

“We dug ourselves a hole the first half,” redshirt freshman midfielder Miguel Polley said.

Polley then scored Temple’s first goal of the game three minutes into the second half.  Junior midfielder Jared Martinelli, with 6 minutes, 17 seconds remaining, tied the team’s North Philadelphia peers with a goal following a deflection.

In overtime, despite the excitement of many near misses and the downpour in the final few minutes, both teams failed to pull ahead en route to a 2-2 draw.

With the underlying context of two former conference foes facing off, one could not deny the tempers and physicality of the match, on both sides. The game was marked by crowd and coach contesting calls regarding shoves and sliding kicks.

Redshirt freshman defenseman Mark Grasela of La Salle College High School and Robert Sagel, both of Temple, received yellow cards.  The two schools’ aggressiveness in play was no doubt a manifestation of the fact they are both members of the Soccer Six.

“Any time we play amongst the Soccer Six, it’s a battle,” Sagel said. “For the most part, it’s always a one goal game, even last year against St. Joe’s, Drexel and here at La Salle. It’s always a battle.”

Coach David MacWilliams said after the game that he didn’t think the weather and the conditions of the field played as big of a role as it may have seemed.

“I think it was slippery for both teams to really play the feet at times,” MacWilliams said. “You saw the different times balls played in and it was getting away from players on both sides. It made it a little bit direct but I think just the score forced us to play a little bit differently more so than the rain did.”

The Owls will play one more Soccer Six match this season when they host the University of Pennsylvania at Ambler Sept. 21.

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