Whether it was the physical play of Saint Joseph’s or a litany of questionable calls by the refereeing crew, the men’s soccer team could not muster a victory.
The Hawks defeated the Owls, 1-0, at Finnesey Field Saturday night, spoiling the Owls’ Atlantic Ten Conference opener and dropping them to 4-5-1 overall.
Hawks senior forward Patrick Duddy scored the game’s only goal at the 81:22 mark, when he capitalized on an errant Temple pass, swept by two defenders and slid a goal into the net past the outstretched arms of Temple goalie Tony Pratico.
“It was a square ball – they know they aren’t supposed to pass square balls in the back,” coach David MacWilliams said of the Owls’ defense. “Then we do that and we get punished for it. Huge mistake.”
Duddy made the biggest play in a game marked by its physical play. The teams combined for 41 fouls, 23 of those committed by the Owls. Two yellow cards were given out, but that did not satisfy MacWilliams.
“I think there was a lot that wasn’t called today and it really disrupted the whole tempo of the game for us,” MacWilliams said. “We weren’t able to get the ball in our zone all game and we have to do a better job at that.”
From the start, it was clear the game would be a defensive battle. Neither team made any major scoring threat in the first half. Temple’s first real scoring opportunity came when sophomore midfielder Francois Sagna freed himself for a shot, but the shot soared wide right and well over the goal.
“We knew before the game that the game was going to be physical and coach wanted us to react to the physical play,” Sagna said. “We didn’t really respond and that is why they out-battled us today.”
A few other opportunities arose during the rest of the first half, but the period featured more slide tackles and elbow shots than shots on goal.
The second half was a similar story. With just under 20 minutes left, Duddy scored on a pass through traffic by Hawks forward Colin Baker. The goal was called back because of an offside penalty. Minutes later, Duddy took advantage of careless Temple passing and finally put a score on the board.
Temple’s last scoring chance came with just under five minutes remaining, when a header by Mackenson Altidor fell into Hawks goalie Bryan Benedict’s chest. Temple never had another chance.
“Soccer is a very physical game,” freshman midfielder Kenechukwu Nwanah said. “We have to win our individual battles and get more physical. We lost a lot of our individual battles and that’s why we lost the game.”
“I didn’t like anything we did today,” MacWilliams said. “I am very disappointed.”
The Owls look to rebound against Richmond Friday at Ambler Field.
Kenny Walter can be reached at email@example.com.