Late-season scoring leads to AAC Tournament bid

Temple has scored one goal or more in four of their last five regular season games.

Freshman forward Sean Karani fends off sophomore defender Diego Aguilera Cubero during the Owls’ game against Old Dominion University at the Temple Sports Complex on Oct. 1. | JEREMY ELVAS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple University men’s soccer (7-6-2, 3-1-2 The American Athletic Conference) clinched a spot in The American tournament after winning four-straight games. 

The Owls went 2-0-0 last week as they defeated the University of Louisville (8-6-2, 3-4-1 The Atlantic Coast Conference) 2-1 on Oct. 22, and Connecticut (4-11-1, 1-5-0 The AAC) 2-1 on Oct. 26. Temple tied Tulsa (4-8-2, 0-4-1 The AAC) on Nov. 1.  

“We show everything that top teams show in the nation, competitiveness and skill and ability to work for one another,” said senior forward Lukas Fernandes. “I think we definitely have potential to do something big with this Temple program.”

The Owls only scored five goals in their first 10 games of the season but tallied nine goals in their last five games. 

“I think we’ve put together more complete team performances,” coach Brian Rowland said. “You’ve seen guys step up and score on set pieces from the back, you’ve seen everyone just contribute on both sides of the ball.”

The Owls are fourth in the conference. With their win against UConn, Temple will have a chance to earn a high seed in the American Tournament. 

“We knew that things would come and click together, but that hasn’t been for lack of hard work from the group,” Rowland said.

Fernandes is tied for the most goals scored and leads the team in assists this season, with three in each category. He scored the game-winning goal in the Owls’ road victory over Louisville.

“I feel as if this squad is probably one of the most connected squads on and off the field that we’ve had in a while,” Fernandes said. “We definitely push one another to be each other’s best versions of ourselves each day, on and off the field.”

Fernandes was named to the American Athletic Conference men’s soccer weekly honor roll for his accomplishments in the week ending on Oct. 28. 

“I just do whatever I can to help my team succeed in that column, but obviously the goals and assists are nice,” Fernandes said. “I’m more focused on doing whatever I can to get a win.”

The Owls had a slow start as they dropped their first three games of the season and were shut out in each match.

“From the beginning of the season, we knew we had a good team, but we also knew we were also a very new team,” freshman forward Sean Karani said. “We knew that once we clicked that we’d start playing like you see now.”

Karani has scored three goals this season. He recorded the game-winning goal at home against South Florida (9-5-1, 3-3 The AAC).

“I honestly think we can win it all, with the team that we have,” Karani said. “It’s hard work and family and just love for each other. Just fight for your brother right next to you.”

Temple will finish the regular season at home against Southern Methodist (13-1-1, 4-1-1 The AAC) tonight at 7 p.m. 

“I think if we can stay focused and tuned in to the effort that we’ve put in and just trusting the process and really being focused on getting better everyday, we got a lot ahead of us,” Rowland said.

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