In a tight back-and-forth affair Sunday at the Temple Sports Complex, Temple University women’s soccer (1-2-1, 0-2-1 The American Athletic Conference) and East Carolina University (1-2-1, 1-0-1 The American) finished in a 1-1 draw, leaving Temple with just one win after four games.
Following its games against conference powerhouses Central Florida on Feb. 15 and South Florida on Feb. 21, Sunday’s game was an important one for Temple to win. ECU came in with the same record as Temple, and was predicted to finish in seventh place in The American preseason coaches poll, one spot ahead of Temple at eighth.
“The mood in the locker room afterward was that we wanted to win and we’re disappointed not too,” said coach Nick Bochette. “When you have the underdog status, you’ve got nothing to lose. Whereas I was interested to see how we came out knowing that’s a team we can line up toe to toe against.”
ECU controlled play throughout the first half as Temple struggled defensively, clearing the ball out of their own side of the field, resulting in scoring chances for ECU. The second half was more even, as Temple was quicker on the ball and got its offense deeper into ECU’s territory to create havoc near the goal.
Senior midfielder Madie Knaggs scored in the third minute and Temple found themselves fighting back from an early deficit.
It’s the third game this year in which Temple has given up a goal in the first 10 minutes of play.
“It’s a bothersome trend of sorts,” Bochette said. “There’s no denying it and it’s not nothing we can shy away from. In four games we’ve given three teams a head start and that’s pretty obviously a problem. We have to find ways to work into the game quicker so we don’t have that lag and we don’t start an 85 minute game down by one goal.”
In the eighth minute, Temple turned the ball over to Knaggs on the left wing, and she sent a cross into the middle of the box meant for senior forward Tori Riggs, who missed the ball before senior forward Cashlin Copley dove and headed it toward the goal, allowing junior goalkeeper Kamryn Stablein to stop the shot.
In the ninth minute, Temple tried to clear the ball but it deflected off freshman midfielder Lexy Endres. Senior defender Carsen Parker sent a pass into Temple’s box where Knaggs and freshman forward Annabelle Abbott were, but they couldn’t get a shot off. The ball went to Copley next, and her next shot hit off the right post.
“We’re talking about us letting in an early goal, they went out and scored an early goal, so credit ECU for doing that,” Bochette said. “They were lively, they were ready to win a physical battle, they were ready to put us under pressure and duress whenever they could. We had to get our bearings with that and they put us under the gun.”
Temple was at their best when they got the ball to Endres on the left wing, or senior defender Marissa DiGenova on the right wing.
ECU’s defense gave Endres and DiGenova plenty of space to work the sidelines and cross the ball in for scoring chances and was more concentrated on stacking its own box to prevent shots on goal.
In the fifth minute, DiGenova got the ball at midfield and kept it until she got down to the goal line and crossed it in but senior defender Kim Sanford blocked the pass and cleared it out.
Temple had their best chance to score in the 16th minute after Endres got the ball at midfield and worked it 30 yards upfield and sent a cross from the left wing to junior forward Emily Kavanaugh, who sent a header on net before it missed wide left.
In the 60th minute, Endres attempted to get around junior defender Maycie McDougal but was fouled on the play. DiGenova took the ensuing free kick, which went out of bounds off of ECU, giving Temple a corner kick.
Endres took it from the right corner and sent a cross into the box allowing freshman defender Róisín McGovern to head the ball into the net for her first goal of the season, tying the score at 1-1.
“[McGovern] is going to be a consistent danger on set pieces,” Bochette said. “She’s big, she’s strong, she’s very good in the air. If we can get her the right service as she can be very dangerous in those situations.
Temple had an opportunity to take the lead in the 66th minute when junior midfielder Hailey Gutowski deflected a pass to junior forward Gabriela Johnson, but she was forced to take an early shot which was saved easily.
Sunday was the first time Johnson played this season after missing the first three games due to injury. She was on a minutes restriction, but Bochette was very happy with her performance, he said.
The game went into overtime, which ECU controlled, as they had five shots throughout the 20 extra minutes while Temple had zero.
In the 103rd minute, Endres took a corner kick from the exact spot she had when Temple scored, but this time she put too much curve on the ball and it went directly out of bounds.
ECU had two chances within the final three minutes to win the game on a shot from Copley in the 107th minute and a shot from freshman midfielder Syndey Schnell in the 109th minute.
“Yes, this is better than a loss,” Bochette said. “We scored a goal, we maintained some possession throughout and those are huge positives. But at the end of the day on our home field we want to find a way to challenge and win a game too.”
Temple’s next game is March 7 at 12 p.m. against Southern Methodist at the Temple Sports Complex.