Owls defeat Tulsa behind strong defense and goalkeeping

Temple University women’s soccer shut out the Golden Hurricane and held them to just four shots on goal.

Freshman forward and midfielder Lexy Endres follows the ball during the Owls’ match against the University of Central Florida at the Temple Sports Complex on March 26. | NICK DAVIS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

In the 66th minute, freshman midfielder Lexy Endres faked a pass with her left foot and passed off to senior midfielder Emma Wilkins inside the penalty box. Wilkins settled the ball and sent a curling shot into the bottom left corner of the net to give the Owls a 2-0 lead. 

It would be the final goal in Temple University women’s soccer’s (4-4-1, 2-4-1 The American Athletic Conference) 2-0 victory against the University of Tulsa (1-5-0, 1-5-0 The American) in an emotional, physical game Sunday afternoon at the Hurricane Soccer and Track Stadium in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

Wilkins’ goal came just three minutes after she was involved in an altercation at midfield with Tulsa sophomore midfielder Isold Runarsdottir. Both players received a yellow card. 

Overall, there were 25 fouls called in the game and seven yellow cards given out. 

“[Wilkins] is such a passionate player,” said head coach Nick Bochette. “One of the things that I love about her is that she wears it on her sleeve. She’s tough and she’s honest, and that was her out there today. She feeds into that energy. She knows how to use that energy and passion for good and that was a perfect example of it.”        

Temple’s offense was highly efficient, scoring two goals on three shots on goal, while its defense only gave up four shots on goal. Temple junior goalkeeper Kamryn Stablein made four saves in total. 

“We were very good at putting pressure on them where we needed to, so they didn’t have any opportunities, including not giving away set pieces,” Bochette said. “That might’ve been one of our more comprehensive defensive performances. So many of the goals that we’ve given up we’ve been able to point to as very fixable mistakes.”

In the sixth minute, Tulsa had the first opportunity to score when Temple freshman defender Róisín McGovern misplayed the ball and Runarsdottir stole it from her. Runarsdottir had a clear lane toward the goal and shot from just outside the box, but her shot went over the top of the goal. 

Following a yellow card on Tulsa senior defender Averee Dubach in the 25th minute, Endres took the free kick from the right wing and swung it into the box to junior midfielder Hailey Gutowski, who tapped it toward junior forward Gabriela Johnson, allowing her to slide the ball to McGovern, who was uncovered near the left post. McGovern tapped the ball in, giving Temple a 1-0 lead. 

“There’s never a game where there’s a differential in set-piece scoring and it doesn’t play a huge part,” Bochette said. “Getting the first goal off a set piece was so important, and that’s a play that we’ve worked on directly in training.” 

Johnson would later go down with a lower body injury in the 35th minute and was replaced by sophomore forward Madison Bee. Bochette said Johnson will be getting an MRI later this week to see what the injury is. 

Both defenses didn’t allow for many chances throughout the rest of the first half, and nearly every shot taken was an easy save for Stablein and Tulsa senior goalkeeper Emma Malsy. 

In the 62nd minute, Temple thought it had extended its lead to 2-0 after Temple junior forward Emily Kavanaugh got the ball behind Malsy and sophomore defender Selma Vidgren, giving Kavanaugh an easy goal. 

The referee disallowed the goal and ruled that Kavanaugh was offsides. Bochette was given a yellow card in the 63rd minute after refuting the call. 

“The explanation I got was where the players were relative to where the ball was played into the goal area, one of their players stopped it, then we won the ball back and it went into the goal,” Bochette said. “The referee’s interpreted the original action as a shot, and therefore when the shot was taken, our player was in an offside position. I was contesting that it was not a shot and that it was instead a pass or a cross. I thought it was a pretty clear centering pass.”

Just a few seconds later, Wilkins and Runasdottir began shoving each other near midfield after Runarsdottir shoved Wilkins and the two had to be separated. 

Three minutes later, Wilkins scored to extend Temple’s lead to 2-0. 

Tulsa had three more shots for the rest of the game, but none were on target, and the clock ran out, giving Temple its fourth win of the year and second in conference play. 

Temple’s final regular season game will be April 2 at noon at Houston University (4-4-1, 1-4-0 The American).  

“We know now that we have a lot to play for in this last game,” Bochette said. “If we go out and take care of business at Houston, we put a lot of pressure on ECU and Cincinnati. It’s very important and significant because now the final week of the season is very exciting. We believe that if we beat Houston, we have a very good chance of being in the conference tournament.”  

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