In what was set to be the men’s soccer team’s toughest challenge thus far in 2012, Temple and No. 16 Saint Louis remained deadlocked at zero until time began to wind down in the first half.
However, Saint Louis ultimately took control of the game in the second half.
The match was a typical Atlantic 10 Conference game, with both sides getting physical and playing scrappy defense. Both teams played suffocating defense early, but Temple ultimately let in a couple goals that coach Dave MacWilliams called “soft.”
“We had too many mistakes and you can’t make mistakes against a team like that,” MacWilliams said. “I think Friday’s game took a lot out of us, maybe physically and mentally, and I think it showed today.”
The Owls best scoring chance in the first half came with 15 seconds left, when senior midfielder Cody Calafiore was fed a ball in the box but airmailed the shot. Saint Louis junior goalie Nick Shackelford wasn’t tested nearly as often in the first half as Temple would have liked. Shackelford had a 1.06 goals against average with four shutouts coming into the match-up.
With five minutes left before halftime, the Billikens struck first. Sophomore midfielder Ray Lee gathered a rebound and was able to slip it over the head of Temple’s junior goalie Bobby Rosato. The Owls only broken play in the first 45 minutes came back to hurt them. The game remained 1-0 at the half in favor of Saint Louis.
Saint Louis carried the momentum into the opening moments of the second half. Just 30 seconds in, freshman midfielder David Graydon scored to put the Billikens up 2-0.
Following the goal, Saint Louis continued to possess the ball, refusing to let Temple move up the field and get any offensive pressure going. The Billikens defense was relentless all afternoon, showing everyone in attendance one of several reasons as to why they’re nationally ranked.
Saint Louis tacked on an insurance goal with 12 minutes remaining to make it 3-0. Junior forward Adnan Gabeljic headed the ball past Rosato after a nice pass into the box by junior defender Jon Roeckle.
Freshman midfielder Jared Martinelli scored with six minutes remaining in the game for Temple, ruining Saint Louis’ bid for a shutout. Martinelli gathered the cross-pass from red-shirt sophomore forward Chas Wilson and blasted it past Shackelford. After a four-point weekend, Martinelli now has 23 points (seven goals, nine assists) in 2012.
The game ultimately ended 3-1 with Saint Louis coming out on top.
“I’m disappointed in the weekend,” MacWilliams said. “I think we’re going to be in the middle of the pack in the end results. It’s tough because I think we had the game in hand on Friday and I would have been pretty happy coming out of here with one win and one loss. To give up six goals [this weekend] is unacceptable.”
After a deflating 3-3 draw against Butler in which Temple was up three with 15 minutes left, the Owls ran into a buzz saw in the form of Saint Louis. The Billikens are now 11-3 overall with a 5-1 A-10 record. They’ve won their last five games and improved to 6-0 all-time against Temple.
The Owls fall to 7-5-3 overall and 3-1-2 in conference play. With today’s outcome, Temple suffered its first home loss of 2012 as well as its first in-conference loss.
Heading into this weekend, MacWilliams said Friday’s game against Butler and today’s game against Saint Louis would be used as a “measuring stick” that would “indicate where the team stands.” It was certainly their toughest weekend of soccer, as all of their wins have come against teams that are well below .500.
“We have to let the guys know that it’s only one weekend and that they’ve been playing well up until this point,” MacWilliams said. “We have to focus on the positives and get ready for Friday night’s game.”
The Owls are off until next weekend when they’ll continue A-10 play with road matches against Fordham and La Salle.
Tyler Sablich can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @TySablich.