When Cincinnati’s Cassie Wheldon scored in the 22nd minute to put Temple down 1-0 for the fourth consecutive game Thursday at Ambler Sports Complex, tensions began to boil over for the Owls.
Two minutes after the Bearcats’ goal, sophomore defender Elana Falcone had the ball at the top of the box with numbers on her side. Senior defender Paula Jurewicz, among others, called out to Falcone, who had her back turned to the goal.
Falcone lost possession of the ball and, in the heat of the moment, barked back at Jurewicz.
“I went up to her right after the first half and I was like, ‘I’m so sorry. Obviously, I didn’t mean anything. I was just frustrated,” Falcone said. “And she’s like, ‘Oh my god, no. It’s no problem. I just know you’re better than that.’”
Falcone atoned for her first-half miscue in a big way, capitalizing on a set play initiated by senior defender Erin Lafferty with a game-tying header in the 56th minute, helping the Owls (9-5, 1-3) defeat Cincinnati, 2-1 to earn their first American Athletic Conference win of the season.
“I think it was kind of them realizing at halftime when the coaches came in and we weren’t down, we weren’t out of it,” coach Seamus O’Connor said. “We were like this is a good team, like it’s fine to be one-nil down at halftime.”
Falcone’s goal, her fifth of 2015, was Temple’s first score of conference play. The Owls’ last goal came Sept. 20, when senior striker Kelly Farrell recorded the first three-goal performance of her career in a 3-1 rout of city-rival Saint Joseph’s.
During Temple’s three-game losing streak, the Owls were outshot in each game as they attempted a total of 21 shots with eight on goal against Central Florida, South Florida and Connecticut.
Temple outshot Cincinnati, 13-10, in its first home game of conference play.
“It was a big weight off our shoulders,” Falcone said. “I think that going forward we have more confidence now. We knew we needed to just get that first goal and get the ball rolling and now we’re on our way.”
The game-winning goal came from the right foot of redshirt junior Gina DiTaranto, who corralled a blocked shot from freshman Sarah McGlinn and fired it into the back of the net to give the Owls the lead in the 70th minute.
DiTaranto, who missed two games after dislocating her left kneecap in a loss to Lehigh Sept. 6, started the second half up top alongside Farrell.
O’Connor said his second-half decisions to switch sophomore Gabriella McKeown to defense and to start DiTaranto and redshirt sophomore Kayla Cunningham were key in the Owls’ comeback victory.
“I thought today Gina DiTaranto came off the bench and just made a huge difference,” O’Connor said. “She’s been working out extra on her own, she’s been in the weight room, she’s just been working her socks off just to get back close to 100 percent again and that was more … that was her that we saw today.”
Tom Reifsnyder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Tom_Reifsnyder