David MacWilliams gripped his knees and stared at the ground in disbelief after he saw the ball hit twine.
Tulsa’s game-winning goal in the 103rd minute of the match on Saturday at Ambler Campus sent Temple’s losing streak to five games and increased its winless streak to seven games. The Owls’ last win was against the University of Cincinnati on Sept. 27.
MacWilliams was at a loss for words when asked about what the team can take from the 2-1 overtime defeat.
“I don’t know what we can take from this loss,” MacWilliams said. “I mean, we keep asking ourselves that same question.”
Saturday’s game marked the seventh overtime game for the Owls. They have tied two of those games, and have won none of them.
MacWilliams pointed to a lack of confidence and maturity as reason for the Owls’ demise in overtime matches.
“I think we can play with anybody, but we’re lacking a bit of confidence and maturity right now,” MacWilliams said. “We have been in seven overtime games this year and we’re very young, so it shows.”
Temple’s performance on Saturday helped make for a closer game compared to its recent contests. The Owls led for the majority of the game Saturday against the second-place team in the American Athletic Conference, while also keeping pace in terms of shots on goal, finishing with eight compared to Tulsa’s 10.
Sophomore defender Robert Sagel said he saw improvement in Saturday’s defeat.
“They’re a good team and we showed improvement,” Sagel said. “It’s been a tough year, but we have to continue to learn and be better next time.”
The Owls (2-12-2, 1-5-1 The American) have one more game to improve their spot in the standings before the conference tournament starts Nov. 8. After Central Florida’s win on Saturday, Temple fell into a tie for last place in the conference with Cincinnati, the only team the Owls have beaten thus far in The American.
Senior goalie Dan Scheck focused on defense when talking about issues his team needs to fix.
“I think we have to get a little more disciplined and tighter defensively,” Scheck said. “Then hopefully picking up our defense can translate to more offense.”
The American’s conference tournament is single-elimination with a quarterfinal match, a semifinal match and a championship. The quarterfinals round is played at the home field of the team with the higher seed in the matchup, while the seminal and final rounds this year will be played in Storrs, Connecticut.
After Saturday’s game, several players said they are confident they can make some noise in the tournament.
“The game shows that we can compete with anyone in this conference,” Scheck said. “Tulsa’s one of the top teams in our conference right now, and, although we have been struggling all season long, we played well against them. We can play with anyone.”
Sagel agreed with his teammate that his team is going to be a tough out come tournament time.
“We’re feeling good about it,” Sagel said. “We have had a real tough season, but we have improved all year. We’ve just gotten real unlucky toward the end of games. I know other teams don’t want to play us. We’re a tough matchup for anyone in the conference.”
Sagel laid out the mindset the team needs in order to scrape a successful tournament.
“It’s do or die,” Sagel said. “For us, it’s our last chance and it’s win or go home. The pressure’s on and we have to bring it.”
Matthew Cockayne can be reached at email@example.com