As time dwindled in the second half on Saturday against Tulsa, Temple (9-5-2, 1-2-2 American Athletic Conference) saw its playoff hopes in The American fading. The Owls, trailing by a goal, needed at least a draw at the Temple Sports Complex to remain in contention for one of the four spots in the conference tournament.
The team got the break it needed when sophomore midfielder Jordan Wix Rauch scored his first goal of the season in the 87th minute to tie the game at one, leading to an eventual 1-1 draw.
The Owls entered play one game behind Tulsa in The American’s standings. A loss would have put the Owls’ in a tough position with only two conference games left.
“It felt really good,” Wix Rauch said. “It was one of the first shots I’ve taken this year, so it felt good to finally have one go in.”
“At that point we weren’t really thinking about the loss,” Wix Rauch added. “We were down by a goal and the loss was in the back of our minds. By getting that one goal we were able to put the loss behind us and move forward.”
After an uncharacteristic breakdown in the Owls’ backline and an early goal by Tulsa in the sixth minute, the Owls had to play from behind, knowing they could not take the loss. Winning the game would have resulted in three points for Temple instead of one.
The Owls have five points, which puts them in sixth place, two points behind Tulsa.
“A tie is a bittersweet result and we were definitely looking for a win,” redshirt-junior goalkeeper Alex Cagle said. “We didn’t make too many big adjustments after the first goal. We just held more centrally on the defensive third and from there we all clicked in at the same time.”
The Owls only managed to score two goals in their past three games prior to Saturday’s matchup against the Golden Hurricane. The offensive struggles continue, despite getting the game-tying goal from Wix Rauch. The Owls generated chances, outshooting Tulsa 20-12, but only got one goal.
“That’s been the story of the last four games,” head coach David MacWilliams said. “We get a lot of opportunities and we’re outshooting everybody that we play against. It’s about execution and finishing in the box. I don’t think we’ve done that as well as we should be.”
Next Saturday is a must-win game for the Owls on senior night as they take on Central Florida, which has more point than Temple. MacWilliams’ team has yet to lose a home game this season, and will use that home-field advantage to keep its playoff hopes alive.
“We talk about it every time we play on this field,” MacWilliams said. “We’re going to keep going. We’re going to keep battling. We just have to finish our chances.”
Addison Hunsicker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.