Owls looking for a cohesive offense after missing playoffs

Despite missing the American Athletic Conference tournament, Temple University women’s soccer proved they can compete against top notch opponents.

Temple Women's Soccer poses for a photo before their final game of the season against the University of South Florida at the Temple Sports Complex on Oct. 28. | NOEL CHACKO / THE TEMPLE NEWS

When Temple University women’s soccer took the field against the University of Central Florida on Oct. 24, they knew they needed to win to keep their American Athletic Conference Tournament hopes alive.

Instead, the Owls lost the match 5-0 and missed the conference tournament for the third straight season.

The Owls went into the 2021 season hoping to improve on offense after finishing in the bottom half of the conference in goals per game, points, shots and assists during the 2020-21 season. While the numbers did improve this season, the Owls failed to apply consistent offensive pressure and were outshot 287-146.

“Quality of chance matters,” said head coach Nick Bochette. “When we get outshot in a game it does not really mean a whole lot to me. It is about the quality of chances, and there have been games where we have been outshot, but we have had the more quality chances.”

The Owls kept up with top notch conference teams throughout the season, defeating the University of Houston — the second seed in the AAC tournament — 2-1 on Oct. 17.

“When we are at our best, there is no team that we can’t play with,” Bochette said. “The next step for us going forward will be doing it more consistently.”

However, the team failed to string together multiple conference wins this season, hurting their attempt to climb the standings down the stretch.

The Owls defeated the University of Cincinnati, the 2020-21 season’s conference runner-up, 3-2 on Sept. 23. However, they failed to beat the University of Tulsa on Sept. 30, giving the Golden Hurricane their only conference win of the season. 

Despite inconsistent play on offense, junior forward Emily Kavanaugh emerged as an elite goal scorer for the Owls this season, leading the team with seven goals and 15 points in 16 games. She was also named the AAC Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 27.

“[Kavanaugh] is a hard worker and a great teammate,” Bochette said. “We know no matter where we ask her to play that she will give maximum effort, and she has had to shoulder the weight of scoring a lot of goals, which is really hard to do.”

The Owls only had five upperclassmen in their regular starting lineup, resulting in inexperienced players getting significant minutes in big games.

“We had a lot of young student athletes that had their first real immersion to AAC play,” Bochette said. “Getting our younger players out there under the gun and in the spotlight is important and that kind of education is going to go a long way going forward.”

Temple ended their season with a losing record for the sixth straight year but the team showed encouraging flashes throughout the season.

“We can’t wait to have a large part of the group back,” Bochette added. “We are going to miss the players that are leaving us but I think that all of us feel like our job isn’t done and we have unfinished business within our conference.”

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