In the 79th minute, Temple senior defender Djavon Dupree slid a pass to junior forward Gabriela Johnson, who took the ball to her right and passed off to senior forward Emma Wilkins on the right wing. Wilkins sent a low cross into the box towards junior midfielder Hailey Gutowski, who slid her left foot forward ahead of redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Molly Saylor and deflected the ball into the goal, giving Temple a 1-0 lead.
Gutowski’s goal was the game winner in Temple University women’s soccer’s (2-2-1, 0-2-1 The American Athletic Conference) 1-0 win against the New Jersey Institute of Technology (2-1, 0-0 American East) on Sunday afternoon at Lubetkin Field.
“It’s a game we should win, quite frankly, but we still went on the road and did our job,” said head coach Nick Bochette. “11 a.m. start, which is a 7 a.m. breakfast, so it wasn’t the easiest condition to play in, but I’m really thrilled for the girls and how they attacked the day.”
Temple’s offensive priority was getting the ball on the wings and quickly getting past NJIT’s defenders to make crosses into the box for the attacking forwards and midfielders.
“Getting to the endline was something we really tried to exploit today,” Gutowski said. “That’s also exactly how we scored the goal.”
Neither team generated many scoring opportunities in the first half, as Saylor made just one save and Temple junior goalkeeper Kamryn Stablein made two saves in the first 45 minutes.
In the 44th minute, NJIT sophomore forward Nora O’Connor sent a cross into Temple’s box from the left wing and sophomore defender Madison Taibl was uncovered, but O’Connor just missed the ball, allowing Temple to clear it away.
At the halftime break, Temple made some small adjustments to better attack the wings, allowing them to generate several chances to score in the second half.
On a corner kick in the 48th minute, Temple sophomore forward Teri Jackson’s shot hit off the crossbar, and NJIT cleared before Temple could get another shot off.
In the 51st minute, Temple senior midfielder Julia Dolan put a line drive shot on goal from just outside the box, but it went out high and to the right.
“Today I thought we had much more success in the attacking half and in the attacking third,” Bochette said. “It still wasn’t perfect, and we’re still learning how to make decisions on the fly, but I was really encouraged with our attacking play today.”
In the 54th minute, NJIT senior midfielder Yasmeen Malik chipped a pass over Temple’s defense to senior forward Christine Conaghy, who got in front of freshman defender Róisín McGovern. McGovern, Dupree and Stablein all crashed in on Conaghy, deflecting her shot, but it was still heading toward the net.
Conaghy chased the ball and had a clear shot to score, but senior defender Marissa DiGenova came into the play and cleared the ball out before preserving the shutout.
“I think we can always improve as a team, especially on the back line,” Dolan said. “We’re definitely not where we want to be. Whether it’s the back line, the goalkeepers, or the forwards as a team, we can continue to improve and just keep getting better every day.”
Temple continued its pressure and had back-to-back chances in the 72nd and 73rd minutes when freshman midfielder Lexy Endres and senior midfielder Arryana Daniels each had shots on goal before Saylor saved both of them.
Temple was awarded a free kick in the 78th minute following a foul on Malik. McGovern took the free kick and sent it toward the box, but NJIT cleared it away. Nevertheless, Temple kept the ball on NJIT’s half and worked it up the field, which led to Gutowki’s goal.
“It was a really good team goal,” Gutowski said. “It built from our back back line. [Dupree] had a really nice pass into [Johnson] and then she turned on her defender and played it into [Wilkins] then she drove down the line. As she was doing that I found a pocket right in front of the defender and kinda just put my body on the line and then got a foot on the ball.”
The final 10 seconds of the game was a frenzy, as NJIT senior forward Tara Walenczyk sent a cross into the box to senior midfielder Jennifer Callaghan, who sent a shot on net that McGovern saved and headed away as time expired.
“The last minute when they were attacking, I think all of our hearts were racing,” Dolan said. “But [McGovern] had a really good save there and helped us get the win, so we can’t complain now.”
Temple will look to pick up their first conference win when they travel to face the University of Cincinnati on March 14 at 12 p.m.