Temple University women’s soccer (3-4-1, 1-4-1 The American Athletic Conference) was unable to overcome two first-half goals by No. 18 University of Memphis (6-1-0, 5-0-0 The American) in its 2-1 loss Sunday at the Temple Sports Complex.
Temple conceded an early goal, as freshman midfielder Haylee Spray scored in the fourth minute to give Memphis a 1-0 lead. The goal came on the fourth straight corner kick for Memphis.
“Set piece stuff got us again,” head coach Nick Bochette said. “First off, we didn’t need to give up four consecutive corners in the first place. Before the fourth one came in, if we were more diligent and more technically correct about how we cleared the ball, we wouldn’t have to give up other corners.”
Temple responded in the eighth minute of the game when freshman midfielder Lexy Endres and junior forward Gabriela Johnson connected to tie the game at 1-1.
Endres crossed the ball in from the right wing and Johnson put a shot on net that was blocked, but Johnson shot the rebound in. It was the first goal Memphis conceded in conference play this year.
“The response was good,” Bochette said. “The longer it stayed 1-1, the harder it would’ve been to break them down. It probably would’ve crept in our heads that not everyone has scored against them. Great finish by [Johnson] on her weak foot. It was very, very important. I don’t know if the game is as competitive in the last 10 minutes if we don’t score that goal then.”
Both teams settled in defensively and neither allowed many shots on goal. Memphis’ attack got close to Temple’s goal, but Temple’s backline stayed compact and never allowed the forwards to penetrate for easy crosses and shots.
That remained true until the 27th minute, when Memphis broke the tie and took a 2-1 lead.
From the right wing, Tigers’ freshman midfielder Grace Stordy sent a long pass into Temple’s box where redshirt-senior midfielder Lisa Pechersky had snuck in behind senior defenders Djavon Dupree and Marissa DiGenova.
Pechersky headed the ball on to goal, but junior goalkeeper Kamryn Stablein made a diving save. Pechersky got a second chance and headed the rebound in for the 2-1 lead.
“Both goals came from aerial balls that we just didn’t track them and didn’t track their runners,” Bochette said. “The second one bothers me a little bit more just because Pechersky gets a header on and [Stablein] makes an otherworldly save, and she gets a second chance. Those are the mistakes.”
Memphis kept up its strong offensive attack throughout the game. Temple’s backline held steady and didn’t give up any more goals, with Stablein making big saves in the 61st, 62nd, 66th and 75th minutes.
In the 82nd minute, Temple had a chance to tie the game off of a free kick. DiGenova took the free kick and freshman defender Róisín McGovern slid to get a shot on goal, but her shot hit the post and was cleared away by a Memphis defender.
Temple wouldn’t get a better chance to score in the final minutes, and Memphis walked away with the win.
Even with Sunday’s loss, Bochette said Temple played confidently and attacked well against one of the best teams in their conference, he said.
“It’s hard to have a ton of confidence when you’re playing a team that hasn’t given up a goal in conference play,” Bochette said. “But we knew we could cause some trouble, and I think it’s a statement that the most of the attack in the last 10 to 15 minutes came from the cherry shirts.”
Temple will host Drexel University (2-2, 1-0 Colonial Athletic Association) at 7 p.m. on Senior Day on March 24 at the Temple Sports Complex.