Owls lose close game on single successful shot on goal

Temple is now 0-5-0 on the road this season.

Sophomore defender Mickael Borger kicks the ball during the Owls’ game against Lafayette at the Temple Sports Complex on Sept. 13, 2019. | JUSTIN OAKES / FILE

Temple men’s soccer (3-6-1, 0-1-1 The American Athletic Conference) lost 1-0 to St. John’s University (10-1-0, 3-0-0 The Big East Conference) Tuesday night in an evenly matched game in Queens, New York. 

In the third game in eight days, the Owls could not find a goal to tie the game as St. John’s, ranked No. 10 in the United Soccer Coaches poll, scored the only shot on goal in the match.

Sophomore defender Mickael Borger turned the ball over on a sloppy pass, and St. John’s took advantage of the mistake.

Junior defender Rafael Bustamante gained possession and executed a pass to sophomore forward/midfielder Tani Oluwaseyi, as he netted a one-time finish in the bottom right corner to give the Red Storm a 1-0 lead in the 66th minute.

“I know it’s a non-conference game, but for us every game is important, and we want to win games and show that we’re a good team,” coach Brian Rowland said. “I wouldn’t have expected nothing less from our guys to put on a strong performance and obviously I think they matched up well. Hopefully we can maintain the confidence in the group and remain positive.”

Both teams finished the first half with five total shots while Temple’s defense held the Red Storm to zero shots on goal.

Red Storm sophomore midfielder Einar Lye thought he had scored in the 16th minute, but the goal was called back for offsides. 

St. John’s senior midfielder Matt Forster had a threatening chance in the 22nd minute, but his attempt went wide. This proved to be St. John’s best scoring opportunity in the first half.

Temple earned its own opportunities but Red Storm junior goalkeeper Jan Hoffelner denied most attempts, while others were sent off-target.

Senior forward Lukas Fernandes registered the Owls’ first shot on goal in the 26th minute.

Moments later, the ball made its way to sophomore defender Esteban Suarez as he whipped in a curling ball that senior midfielder Leandros Lillis connected on with his head. The downward-directed header was saved by Hoffelner who made a diving save to his right. Hoffelner was subbed out for redshirt-freshman goalkeeper Luka Gavran at the start of the second half.

“I thought we were able to carry the play and be the dominant team,” Rowland said. “We have to take confidence away from that, that we obviously feel we can play with anybody in the country.”

In the 61st minute, sophomore forward Elias Hellgren Villegas fired a shot after receiving a well-crafted through ball, but his attempt was saved on a diving effort from Gavran.

In the 73rd minute, Fernandes made a run down the left side and crossed in a dangerous ball, but junior midfielder Justin Hahn failed to connect on the potential game-tying goal.

“I think we’re a very good team and I hope that we can continue playing, and our time will come to the season where we can turn this thing into more production in all games,” Rowland said.

Tuesday’s result is Temple’s fourth loss this season decided by one goal.

“Obviously we have to find ways to score some goals,” Rowland said. “I know it takes pressure off us and whenever you play away from home, it’s hard to post clean sheets for various reasons. I don’t know if there’s a magic answer for that, other than we have to keep improving as a team and scoring more goals, and continue to believe that we can win these kind of games.”

Temple will play against Memphis (8-2-0, 2-0-0 The American Athletic Conference) on Saturday at 8 p.m. on the road to resume conference play.

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