In the Owls’ game against Southern Methodist on Thursday night, the final score wasn’t a proper indication of which team played the better game.
Outshooting the Mustangs 15-3 in the contest, Temple still found itself on the losing end of a 1-0 game.
Coach Seamus O’Connor said he wasn’t sure why his team couldn’t find the back of the net. “Fairy dust” was one suggestion he had.
Whether it was a nice save or a SMU defender throwing her body in front of a shot, the Mustangs thwarted every effort of the Owls to score.
Despite the loss, O’Connor was proud of his team’s effort.
“90 minutes of just professional soccer,” O’Connor said of his team’s performance.
“Fifteen to three, that’s a heck of a difference and I will only look at it as a positive, as a building stone going forward,” he added.
Earlier this week the team lost junior defender Paula Jurewicz for the season when she was diagnosed with a torn ACL. O’Connor praised the way his team responded despite the challenges of replacing a key player late in the season.
“To miss someone like Paula is huge,” O’Connor said. “To have to adjust your team this late in the season and have it be such a key player, it’s very, very challenging. These girls could have felt sorry for themselves, but I’ll tell you what they were phenomenal.”
The Mustangs struck early in the first half and despite the Owls’ pressure, they never relinquished the lead. It was the fourth time in the last five games that Temple allowed its opponent to score first.
Playing catch up is difficult to do as the Owls have found out, going 1-2-1 in those contests.
O’Connor credits the strength of the teams American Athletic Conference to explain why his team has fallen behind early as of late. However, he believes it is not something to worry about due to his players’ performance in the second half of games.
“You’re playing against good teams and I think that’s the point that kind of gets overlooked,” O’Connor said. “We’ve killed people in the second half which tells me we are fitter and stronger and able to last longer into the games, and that’s the part that I like.”
The team made a strong effort to get the equalizer. After half time, Temple had 11 shots and four corners. Junior defender Erin Lafferty almost had the game tying goal in the final minutes when her shot hit off the crossbar.
A positive takeaway from the game was the return of senior defender Alyssa Kirk to the field. After missing the past two games with a lower leg injury Kirk saw 59 minutes of action as she was eased back into play.
Subbed in with 15 minutes to go in the first half, Kirk helped get the Owls going as they attempted to come back into the game.
“Her leadership and her play it really turned the game in our favor,” O’Connor said. “She did a great job coming back and being that vocal leader we needed.”
Sunday, the Owls will stay in Texas as they take on Houston. It is possible that sophomore Morgan Elliot will return to help bolster the depth of the defense. Elliot has missed the past three games with an injury.
Owen McCue can be reached at email@example.com.