Owls fall to Wildcats 2-1

Temple University men’s soccer lost its first game of the season to Villanova University on an overtime penalty kick goal.

Nigel Griffith, a freshman forward, runs towards the goal, in an attempt to score at the Owl's games versus Manhatten College on Sept. 4 | AMBER RITSON / FILE

With just four minutes left in the second overtime period, Villanova University junior forward Lyam Mackinnon scored the game-winning goal on a penalty kick, defeating the Owls in heartbreaking fashion.

Villanova (4-1, 0-0 The Big East) earned the 2-1 win over Temple University men’s soccer(1-1-2, 0-0 The American Athletic Conference) Saturday night at the Temple Sports Complex.

“We committed a lot of unforced errors,” said head coach Brian Rowland. “And yeah we really shot ourselves in the foot. And in a lot of tough spots that I don’t think we need to get into so disappointed that we did some things that were a little bit uncharacteristic of the group to this point.”

Redshirt-freshman goalkeeper Eoin Gawronski dove to the correct side on the kick, but Mackinnon’s shot was high and just out of reach for the 5-foot-11-inch goalkeeper’s hands. 

Gawronski saved two penalty kicks earlier this season, both in overtime during back-to-back matches against Seton Hall University and Rutgers University.

The Wildcats’ goal in double overtime came after the referee awarded Villanova a penalty kick late in the match when junior defender/midfielder Fabian Grant fouled a Villanova player inside the box. 

“Unfortunately, the referee decided to make a couple calls that, you know, I guess we’re not playing at home when we play Villanova,” Rowland said. 

Prior to this match, Temple won their last game over Manhattan College by a final score of 3-1. Villanova was on the heels of a 2-1 victory over Yale University at home at Higgins Soccer Complex.

The last time the two teams met came in September 2019, when Villanova recorded a 1-0 victory at Higgins Soccer Complex. Heading into this matchup Temple held a record of 24-11-4 versus the Wildcats. Villanova is also Temple’s second least played opponent in the Soccer Six.

Freshman forward Alex Marin scored his first collegiate goal at the 14-minute mark, giving the Owls the early 1-0 lead.

“Yeah, it was a great atmosphere today, pretty happy with the goal,” Marin said. “Obviously it’s not the result that we want at the end of the day and that’s the most important thing. So we have to start turning these good performances and a lot of effort into wins and goals.”

Wildcats freshman forward Balthi Saunders scored the first goal for Villanova at the 54-minute mark, tying the game 1-1. 

Temple graduate defender Mickael Borger was issued a red card at the 57-minute mark for denial of a goal-scoring opportunity. This forced Temple to play with 10 men on the field, one less than usual, for the remainder of the match.

“We got put in a situation where we had to play down a man for a large portion of the game,” Rowland said. “And the guys battled, they competed really well. But ultimately, again we didn’t make enough plays but I can’t fault the effort, it’s a difficult thing to do playing down a man that long.”

Yesterday’s losing effort was Temple’s first loss of the season. The team still has two games left on this four-game homestand and will look to rebound from this unlucky result.

“I think as of right now, we’re doing all the right things, we got all the right things in place,” Marin said. “We have a lot of faith in each other, a lot of faith in the coaching staff. We know we’re gonna go turn this around, so just improving on the little details in the match.”

Next, Temple will host No. 1 ranked Georgetown University (5-0, 0-0 The Big East) at the Temple Sports Complex on Sept. 14 at 7:00 p.m.

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