Following Temple’s 3-1 loss to Central Florida Wednesday, coach David MacWilliams held a team meeting.
After a 7-0-1 start to the season, the loss to the Knights—where the Owls conceded three second-half goals after leading at halftime—dropped the squad to 7-3-2 with an 0-3 mark in the American Athletic Conference.
“We kind of just aired some things out,” MacWilliams said. “I was really disappointed with the way we played. It was the one game that I really thought the effort wasn’t there.”
Following the meeting, the Owls (8-3-2, 1-3 American Athletic Conference) won their first conference game of the season in a 4-0 shutout of Memphis Saturday at Ambler Sports Complex.
Junior midfielder Jorge Gomez Sanchez, the team’s leading goal scorer, returned against the Tigers after missing the game against Central Florida with a leg injury and scored his 12th goal of the season.
“We would’ve rather had it a couple of weeks ago, but we’ll take it,” MacWilliams said of the team’s first conference win. “We’ve just got to build off this and keep going. We were in a low little valley, and now, it’s time to find the peak.”
In Temple’s first conference match, a 3-2 loss to Cincinnati Sept. 26, the Owls gave up a goal in the seventh minute but responded with two of their own from Sanchez and junior defender Matt Mahoney to take a 2-1 lead into halftime.
That score remained until the 77th minute, when Cincinnati’s senior midfielder/forward Alejandro Garcia tied the game off an assist from freshman midfielder Adam Wilson. Garcia then knocked in the game-winner in the 85th minute.
“In the first half our team took it to them,” Mahoney said. “We dominated possession and pressed them high. In the second half, we came out and maybe were a little lax in how we were playing. I think overall what cost us the game was not just mistakes, but how we came out in the second half. We came out too slow.”
Against South Florida Oct. 3, Bulls’ junior forward Nazeem Bartman took advantage of an errant pass by the Owls in the 13th minute, scoring the the game-winning goal in Temple’s 1-0 loss.
“There are going to be a lot of low-scoring games like that in conference because there are a lot of good teams,” redshirt-sophomore goalkeeper Alex Cagle said. “We did have a couple of good chances. We just need to make sure we capitalize on those. We addressed that in training in the different types of offensive drills we did.”
After a non-conference matchup with Columbia University Tuesday, the Owls will travel to Oklahoma Saturday to continue their conference schedule against Tulsa.
“I’m looking forward to the Tulsa game,” Cagle said. “They’re still kind of new to our conference, and they’re always really good as well.”
Dan Newhart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @dannynewhart.