It was a tale of two halves for Temple.
After looking stagnant offensively and falling behind early in Tuesday’s game against Rider University at Ambler Sports Complex, the Owls were able to regroup in the second half and pick up a 3-1 come-from-behind win.
The Owls (3-0-1) have already surpassed their two-win total from last season.
Junior midfielder Jorge Gomez Sanchez had two second-half goals, and Dinho Zwane rounded out the scoring for Temple.
“We had to get control of the game,” coach David MacWilliams said. “You can’t give [Rider] the possession they had in the first half, so we wanted to tighten things up and squeeze the midfield a little bit more. The guys know it wasn’t their best game in the first half and they showed a lot of character and fought through.”
Rider scored its lone goal in the 12th minute of play off a corner kick. A cross ball found senior Sonimi Halliday, who headed it in past a diving redshirt sophomore Alex Cagle to give Rider a 1-0 lead.
The Broncos then shifted to a 4-4-3 set on defense, pressing Temple’s offensive.
The Owls had a tough time getting looks at the goal – only three total shots as a team in the first half. Rider’s pressure also forced a number of offsides calls on the Owls.
“In the first half we were sort of sleeping,” Sanchez said. “Coach [MacWilliams] told us [at halftime] that we have to win this game. We know that we are the better team, and we woke up and had a great second half.”
The second half was a different story.
Temple came out the aggressors, registering eight shots as a team and two early diving saves from Cagle seemed to ignite the Owls offensively.
Sanchez’s shot in the 49th minute hit off the goalpost, and another shot in the 51st minute was just wide.
“It could’ve easily been 3-0 going the other way without those saves,” MacWilliams said. “[Cagle] was one of the reasons why we won – he had two big time saves. We’re chasing the game at that point, and if it goes in it’s a totally different story.”
Shortly after in the 58th minute, the Owls were on the attack again. Sanchez crossed to Zwane, who, after briefly controlling the deflected pass, chipped in the equalizer.
The Owls’ next opportunity came in the 74th minute. After freshman midfielder Hermann Doerner successfully pressured and stole the ball from a Rider defender, he found Zwane who set up Sanchez for a foot-race to the ball with the Broncos’ goalkeeper.
The keeper was drawn out of the goal, and Sanchez – much like in Friday’s win over Penn State – beat the goalie and watched his shot roll into the net, putting Temple up 2-1.
A little over two minutes later in the 76th minute, Doerner was tripped and fouled by a defender inside the box. Sanchez set up for the penalty kick, and capitalized to seal the 3-1 win.
“The guys responded – give credit to our guys, we showed a lot of resilience and character,” MacWilliams said. “[Rider] was better than us in the first half, and we made some adjustments in the second half and the guys battled through it.”
Dan Newhart cane be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @dannynewhart