“Aw, come on! That was all ball!” a fan yelled as the referee pulled a yellow card out of his shirt pocket and held it in the air.
Despite the protest from both fans and Temple players, senior defender Brendon Creed was issued a yellow card for a slide tackle in the 80th minute of a tied game. The call led to a free kick for Southern Methodist in its offensive half.
Just 12 seconds after the penalty was called, the ball flew past sophomore goalkeeper Michael Samnik off a header from senior forward Mauro Cichero to give the Mustangs the lead.
In the end, the second goal was enough to win it, and Southern Methodist beat Temple 2-1 at the Temple Sports Complex on Saturday night.
“I thought it was a bad call, the foul, which led to the ball that got served and then crossed,” coach David MacWilliams said. “The second half, I thought we played well, but you can’t make those mistakes, particularly in a conference game, and the refs can’t make those mistakes, either.”
This was the second American Athletic Conference loss at home for Temple (5-6-1, 1-2 The American). The Owls are ranked fifth in The American with three points, while the Mustangs are third with six points. Southern Methodist is also nationally ranked at No. 25 in the United Soccer Coaches Poll.
Temple’s other conference loss was against Connecticut, which is tied for first in The American with zero conference losses.
“Anytime you lose games, I’m not happy,” MacWilliams said. “We’ve lost to the top two teams. We’ve just got to be able to win our next two home games, especially Cincinnati and then we’ll be 2-2.”
Temple outshot Southern Methodist 12-11, however, the Mustangs recorded more shots on goal with six to Temple’s four.
“We could’ve walked out of there, minimum with a point, maybe even with a win, so it’s obviously disappointing,” senior forward and midfielder Joonas Jokinen said. “But I think we fought really well and we can take out some positives.”
One good thing, MacWilliams said, is that Temple was able to score. In the beginning of the season, the Owls had some scoring woes, but the offense has been effective lately, scoring 10 goals in the last four games.
Senior midfielder Divin Fula Luzolo found the back of the net for his first time as an Owl in the 49th minute to tie the game.
“He hit a great goal for us to give us a spark,” MacWilliams said. “That’s what you’re going to need throughout the year, you’re going to need goals from different players.”
Samnik ended the night with four saves. It was also his fourth consecutive start and fifth overall.
Despite a lackluster first half, the Owls came out energized in the second half, as they scored less than five minutes into the half. Temple also recorded nine of its 12 shots in the second half while holding Southern Methodist to just five. Temple’s otherwise strong second half made it more frustrating when it gave up a goal with about 10 minutes left.
“It was hard,” Samnick said. “Especially how hard we fought in the second half, we did the same thing against Memphis. We gave up a goal with 9.5 seconds left, so that’s probably one thing the coach is going to talk about is giving up late goals this week and just staying mentally focused throughout the entire 90 minutes.”
The Owls will face conference opponent Cincinnati next at the Temple Sports Complex on Saturday, Oct. 14.