Temple earns first win of the season

Nicole Sweeney’s goal lifts Temple Women’s Soccer past Lehigh 1-0.

Despite the absence of their head coach, the Owls won their first game of the season with a 1-0 victory against Lehigh University. | CHARLOTTE SAUNDERS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple Women’s Soccer (1-3-1, 0-0 American Athletic Conference) earned its first win in nearly a year, beating Lehigh (1-1-3, 0-0 Patriot League Conference) 1-0 Thursday night at the Temple Sports Complex. 

“It’s not going to be a dry season,” said Temple forward Nicole Sweeney, who scored the go-ahead goal in the 73rd minute. “It’s been tough, the last few games not being able to score for all of us. And so tonight, to finally put one away, it meant everything to all of us.”

The Owls came into this game missing their head coach Nick Bochette, who sustained injuries in a bicycle accident that occurred Monday. In his place, assistant coaches Michelle Jacquette and Paul Stinson stepped in to lead the team to its first win of the season.

Bochette’s absence didn’t deter the Owls. They started the game generating ball movement and registering a season-high 10 shots in the first half. Despite many close calls, Temple was unable to find the back of the net during the first period.

On the defensive side, Temple made a tactical change with goalkeeper Taylor Vecchione. In her first collegiate game, Vecchione finished the match with five saves and a clean sheet.

“Obviously coming in, it’s a bit nerve-wracking,” Vecchione said. “I’m just glad to be on a team where the environment was great. [It] just meant a lot for the team and obviously for myself, but I was more happy that we got the win.”

Temple continued its offensive dominance into the second half, searching for a goal to break through. In the 73rd minute, Lehigh goalkeeper Maggie Ousouljoglou misplayed a ball that found Sweeney. With a full head of steam, Sweeney beat her defender with a swift move before hammering a ball past Ousouljoglou to give the Owls their first goal of the season.

“I saw that the goalkeeper had it, and she looked not confident,” Sweeney said. “It somehow ended up on my feet, and I just knew I had to put it away for my team. I knew that we needed that goal, and that was our one chance, and I’m so glad I could put it away for our team.”

The win marked the first for Temple since its victory against Long Island on Oct. 1, 2022. Sweeney’s goal was Temple’s first in six games, when former Temple forward Emily Kavanaugh scored in a 2-1 loss to East Carolina on Oct. 23, 2022.

The Owls felt they needed this win, as they will now try to build momentum before facing AAC opponents starting Sep. 21 against Florida Atlantic.

“It’s super important,” Jacquette said. “It’s good for confidence going into conference play to get the wins and start getting the confidence together. And we’ll be rolling, we will have [Bochette] back.”

The Owls, looking to build that momentum, will go on the road and take on Providence (4-0, 0-0 Big East Conference) at Chapey Field on Sep. 3 at 1 p.m.

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