If Temple had been in this situation last season, coach David MacWilliams is sure the team would have reacted differently.
After giving up a goal in the 19th minute into the team’s game against Northeastern University on Sunday afternoon, the Owls were faced with a decision – keep fighting and get the goal back, or lose confidence and fold.
Temple chose the first option, and after Jordan Wix-Rauch’s goal in the 44th minute tied the game, the Owls’ defense held solid for the majority of the second half. The game ended in a 1-1 draw in double overtime, Temple’s second double OT game of the weekend.
“If this was last year’s team, we’d probably lose that game 2-0,” MacWilliams said. “I think this team has a lot of resilience and a lot of character. We had played Friday night in an overtime game, and it takes a lot out of you. To play a team that didn’t play on Friday night I think says a lot for these guys.”
One player Temple game-planned heavily for in this one was 2014 Colonial Athletic Conference rookie of the year Frantzdy Pierrot, who scored Northeastern’s lone goal. Pierrot had four goals and three assists as a freshman, including 21 shots on goal.
MacWilliams praised the efforts of sophomore midfielder Brandon Creed and junior defender Carlos Moros Gracia, whose communication and organization defensively helped prevent the Huskies from scoring for the remainder of the game.
“Carlos and Brendon are just very tough to beat defensively,” MacWilliams said. “They’re very organized in the back and let me tell you, there aren’t many more teams we’re going to play that have as dominant a forward as [Pierrot]. I think we were able to tie the game and had an opportunity to win the game because of those two guys in the back.”
MacWilliams believes a big difference in this year’s team is its mindset. Rather than feeling panicked after giving up a goal, this year’s Owls know they can rely on their offense to get it back, as well as their defense to tighten things up.
“I think it’s tremendous, and it’s a major difference,” MacWilliams said of the team’s mindset this season. “These guys are a pretty close-knit group, they’ve worked really hard in training and in the games, and it’s paying dividends for sure.”
MacWilliams and the team hope to carry the momentum from a successful weekend into this week’s game against Penn State Sept. 4. The Owls lost 1-0 to the Nittany Lions last season.
“I think [this weekend] gives us confidence,” MacWilliams said. “I think any time we step on the field, this group expects to win. [Penn State] is going to be a battle, and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Dan Newhart can be reached at email@example.com or on twitter @dannynewhart