A late rush from Temple University women’s soccer (3-3-1, 1-3-1 The American Athletic Conference) wasn’t enough to stage a comeback as Mustangs’ senior forward Jewel Boland’s two goals powered Southern Methodist University (1-0-0, 1-0-0 The American) to a 3-1 win on Wednesday night at the Temple Sports Complex.
Wednesday night was SMU’s first game of the season, as their six previously scheduled games were all either canceled or postponed due to COVID-19-related issues. In 2019, they had an overall record of 12-7-1 and a conference record of 4-5-0, and the Mustangs lost in the semifinals of the AAC Tournament.
“It was very hard to know what to expect from them,” said head coach Nick Bochette. “We were planning on them having a full lineup and then planning for them not to have a full lineup and playing one of three systems they’ve favored in the last three years. We knew that we didn’t have all the information, and that’s OK.”
Two of SMU’s three goals came off rebounds after initial saves by junior goalkeeper Kamryn Stablein that the rest of Temple’s defense wasn’t able to get to quickly enough.
“It was the second level of their set pieces,” Bochette said. “Our organization was OK to begin with, but it’s after that initial ball comes in. What’s our reaction? Are we quick to win the second ball? Are we putting ourselves in good positions to where the ball might fall? That’s the part that really bit us tonight.”
SMU struck first in the ninth minute, making it the fifth time in seven games that Temple has conceded a goal in the game’s first ten minutes.
Freshman midfielder Leah Chancey crossed the ball into the box to redshirt-freshman midfielder Alina Khan, whose shot Stablein deflected up high. The ball fell to Boland, who sent it to the back of the net, giving SMU an early 1-0 lead.
SMU extended its lead in the 32nd minute when, off a corner kick, Temple again gave SMU more than one chance to score.
Chancey took the corner, and senior defender Marissa DiGenova and freshman defender Róisín McGovern both headed the ball away from goal initially but not enough for a clear. The ball again fell to Boland, but she missed the shot, and sophomore midfielder Wayny Balata scored on the second chance to give SMU a 2-0 lead.
With just one shot on goal in the first half, Temple didn’t muster up enough pressure to effectively combat SMU’s offense.
“We went in wanting to put them under pressure,” Bochette said. “The trouble with a team like that and the caliber of midfielders that they have is that the higher you step up, the more space you give them.”
In the 48th minute, Chancey blocked McGovern’s clearing attempt, and the ball went to Boland again. From near the top right corner of the 18-yard box, she powered a shot over Stablein, giving SMU a 3-0 lead.
Temple settled down after that and started to get some shots off. Senior midfielder Julia Dolan had two shots on goal in the 57th and 71st minutes, and freshman midfielder Lexy Endres had a shot in the 80th minute, but redshirt-sophomore goalkeeper Samantha Estrada handled it easily.
“Most of the time the mentality changes when you’re down by a lot,” Bochette said. “But I was really happy with how they carried themselves tonight. They didn’t just pack it in and go home. They kept fighting and kept putting themselves in good places.”
Sophomore forward Niara Sapp scored Temple’s only goal of the game in the 85th minute. Endres sent the ball into the box, and Estrada came out to play in but completely missed it. Sapp was behind the SMU defense and tapped the ball into the empty net to cut the lead to 3-1.
Temple will have another quick turnaround as they host the University of Memphis (4-1, 3-0 The American) on March 21 at noon at the Temple Sports Complex.