For the first time in 37 years, the Pittsburgh University men’s soccer team made the six-hour drive to North Philadelphia to take on the Temple. The Owls improved to 3-0 on the season with their 2-1 come-from-behind win.
Going into Friday’s game the Owls led the Panthers with an all-time record of 8-3-1. It was the first contest between the two squads since a 0-0 tie in 1979.
Not only was there pressure to keep their perfect season alive, but the Owls were faced with the struggle of playing a team they hadn’t seen in years.
“It’s tough playing a team you and this coaching staff haven’t played before… we had to go in with a different mindset, and try a couple different game plans to get around them,” redshirt-junior goalkeeper Alex Cagle said.
Cagle conceded his first goal of the season 12 minutes into the first half of the game. But after that first goal, he and his defense held the Panthers to only three shots, all of which took place in the first half.
It was that first half that showed the difficulties of playing an unfamiliar team.
“We had an idea how they were going to play and what their strengths were, but even though you know it, it’s still tough to defend,” coach David MacWilliams said. “The guy up top was definitely hard to handle … we switched the formation, we changed some things, and they came out and responded. I thought they did well.”
The Owls responded to those changes by not only scoring two goals, but also getting 11 shots and three corner kicks in the second half.
It was Pitt’s goalkeeper, redshirt-freshman Mikal Outcalt, who kept the game from getting out of hand with his eight saves on the day.
Both Cagle and MacWilliams would like to have more matchups with Pittsburgh in the future.
“I think [Pitt] would be a good early season out of conference match to keep on the schedule,” Cagle said. “They’re definitely a good tester to see where we are at for the season.”
“[Pitt] is a quality team, they’re well coached, and they’re just going to get better and better… but we kept a positive attitude, and we came back and won,” MacWilliams said.
Teresa Sayers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @tessasaysers11.