Owls earn first victory of the season against USF

Temple men’s soccer mounted a comeback win in its first match since November 2019.

Junior midfielder Jalen Campbell (left) jumps for the soccer ball during the Owls' practice at the Temple Sports Complex on Aug. 17, 2020. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple University men’s soccer (1-0-0, 1-0-0 The American Athletic Conference) opened its season with a 3-2 win against the University of South Florida (0-1-0, 0-1-0 The American) Saturday evening after taking the field for the first time since Nov. 13, 2019. 

With explosive offense and execution near the Bulls’ net, the Owls made a comeback after falling behind early on and were able to dominate possession and control the game’s tempo in the second half. 

The Bulls scored the first goal of the game when sophomore forward Victor Claudel notched a loose tap-in goal inside the box four minutes into the match. 

Temple responded at the 30-minute mark when redshirt junior forward Brady O’Connor intercepted a poor pass from USF sophomore goalkeeper Cooper Blay and fed it along to junior midfielder Jalen Campbell, who promptly slotted the ball into the far right corner of the net. 

With 32 minutes and 59 seconds left in the first half, Temple’s senior defender Esteban Suarez delivered a sublime cross to the foot of sophomore midfielder Amir Cohen for the team’s second goal of the night.

“I’m just very proud of the collective effort and commitment that they showed through a very challenging game,” head coach Brian Rowland said. “But certainly a game I felt we deserved to come out of here with three points.”

The Bulls opened the second half strong as freshman forward Oscar Resano found senior senior midfielder Josue Monge at the top of the box, and Monge majestically cut and sliced through the middle of the field before rifling a shot into the back of the net that gave sophomore goalkeeper Nikolas Hartmann no chance of a save. His goal tied up the game at two with 49 minutes left in the second half.

After fending off several dangerous attacks, the Owls took the lead again in the 70th minute. Sophomore midfielder Mike Eijgendaal precisely passed the ball to senior defender Mickael Borger far in the USF zone. Borger ran along the right wing of the field and left it off for Campbell as the Canadian was waiting to tap it home to notch his second goal of the night.

The Owls’ comeback was aided by their willingness to do the “dirty work” and clear set pieces, Rowland said. 

“To get three points on the road in Florida in February I think is a huge testament to our group,” Rowland said. 

The Owls posted three shots in the final twenty minutes, while the Bulls only attempted one shot. Sophomore forward Sean Karani made late runs and maintained possession in the final third of the field. 

“On any other night, Karani could have had two or three goals himself,” Rowland said. “He’s really dangerous in the attacking phase of the game.”

The Owls’ next contest will be on Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. as they take on the University of Central Florida Knights (0-1, 0-1 The American) in Temple’s first home game of the season. 

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