Owls win second straight behind late goal from Johnson

Temple University women’s soccer trailed Cincinnati for most of the game but scored two goals in the second half to secure the win.

Sophomore forward Gabriela Johnson takes a shot on goal during the Owls' game against Cincinnati at the Temple Sports Complex on Sept. 26. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / FILE PHOTO

In the 76th minute, junior midfielder Hailey Gutowski was streaking up the left wing past the Bearcats’ defense. As she neared the penalty box, Gutowski passed to junior forward Gabriela Johnson, who boxed out her defender, stuck her right foot out and deflected the ball into the back of the net, giving the Owls a 2-1 lead they would never relinquish. 

Temple University women’s soccer (3-2-1, 1-2-1 The American Athletic Conference) defeated the University of Cincinnati (1-3, 1-2 The American) 2-1 at Gettler Stadium on Sunday afternoon, picking up its second straight win and first conference win of the season. 

“It feels like a good mini-run, especially with such an odd, peculiar schedule,” said head coach Nick Bochette. “It wasn’t an easy trip by any stretch of the imagination and the girls just put together a huge effort and a great performance. It all came down to their execution and their work today.”

Cincinnati looked to take control from the opening whistle, taking a 1-0 lead just two minutes in off a goal from junior forward Vanessa DiNardo. It marked the fourth time this season Temple has given up a goal in the first 10 minutes of a game.

In the 12th minute, Bearcats sophomore forward Kendall Battle received a cross from the right corner, but her initial shot was off target. She would have had a second chance to score, but senior defender Djavon Dupree cleared the ball away. 

In the 19th minute, senior midfielder Emma Wilkins stole the ball near Cincinnati’s right corner and passed to Johnson, who was swarmed by defenders in the middle of the box. Johnson passed to her left to Gutowski, who shot to the top left of the goal before Bearcats freshman goalkeeper Anna Rexford deflected the ball over the top and out of play. 

Just one minute later, Gutowski had the ball again and passed it to Johnson in the middle of the box, but Rexford dove on top of the ball before Johnson could get a shot off. 

“There was a sense of getting used to a new shape and new responsibilities and coupling that with catching our breath with an early deficit,” Bochette said. “We had to get over that and convince ourselves that we could be in this game. It took 15-to-20 minutes for us to realize that and after that, you saw some real belief from the girls in how they carried themselves.”

On a fast break in the 45th minute, Cincinnati worked the ball upfield and got it to freshman midfielder Lauren Bastian. Bastian got a clean shot on goal off, but it was directed right at junior goalkeeper Kamryn Stablein, who made the save. 

In the 47th minute, Johnson was tripped by sophomore defender Ashley Barron, who was given a yellow card, and Temple was awarded a penalty kick. 

Freshman midfielder Lexy Endres took the penalty and shot to the top left corner of goal, beating Rexford and tying the game at 1-1. It was Endres’ first goal of the season. 

“For us that was a bit of redemption,” Bochette said. “We gave up an early goal but in the second half we quickly got back into it. The game completely changes when you’re back on level terms.”

Cincinnati had two chances to retake the lead in the 64th minute as Bastian had a chance for a breakaway but lost her footing and never got a shot off. Temple failed to clear the ball away, allowing Bastian to get the ball back and send a cross into the box to DiNardo, who deflected the ball straight into Stablein’s arms. 

Endres almost scored her second goal of the game in the 69th minute. Wilkins kept the ball in play on the right corner and crossed the ball to Johnson, who deflected the ball to Endres. She sent a one touch shot to the right post, but Rexford made a diving save. 

The next best chance to score came in the 76th minute when Gutowski and Johnson connected to give Temple a 2-1 lead. Similar to Gutowski’s goal against NJIT on March 7, Temple got a player near the endline and then crossed the ball in to an oncoming attacker.

“A bunch of our players have the skillset to cause problems down on the endline,” Bochette said. “When you do that, you’re forcing the other team to chase. That’s what we saw with [Johnson’s] goal today and [Gutowski’s] goal against NJIT.”

Cincinnati put pressure on Temple’s defense in the last 15 minutes as the Bearcats looked to tie the game up. 

Stablein made a diving save on a shot from senior forward Sophie Gorman in the 85th minute, but the ball rebounded to Bastian, who had a clear shot on goal. Freshman defender Brooke Kane slid in, deflecting the ball as Bastian was shooting, keeping Temple’s lead intact. 

Dupree had a similar play in the 88th minute when junior forward Camryn Hartman had a clear shot to tie the game, but Dupree’s slide tackle sent the ball out of bounds instead. 

“They’re still playing through my head,” Bochette said. “What two game changing moments. We always talk about goals and how big a goal was and sometimes we’ll talk about goalkeeper saves like that too, but those were two big time plays.”

Temple will look to pick up their third consecutive win when they host Southern Methodist University on March 17 at 7 p.m. at the Temple Sports Complex.

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