Temple men’s soccer (1-3, 1-3 The American Athletic Conference) lost its third straight game to the University of South Florida (2-2, 2-2 The American) 2-1 at the Temple Sports Complex on a brisk Saturday night.
“I can’t question the effort,” said head coach Brian Rowland. “I thought they played exceptionally hard and aggressive, and the guys were committed to doing the work. But there is plays to be made and possessions to be retained, we’re making some similar mistakes that are costing us games.”
The Owls took an early lead in the game but the offense soon sputtered as the Bulls were able to capitalize by scoring two goals as they controlled possession throughout most of the game.
Bulls senior winger Trey Jackson recorded the first shot on goal in the 20th minute and it was saved by Owls sophomore goalkeeper Nikolas Hartmann.
In the 21st minute, Owls’ sophomore midfielder Amir Cohen scored the first goal of the game after sophomore forward Mike Eijgendaal crossed the ball to Cohen who volleyed it to the back of the net giving Temple a 1-0 lead.
In the 33rd minute, USF leveled the game at one as freshman winger Jeffrey Copper scored a breakaway goal assisted by senior midfielder Josue Monge.
The Bulls took the lead with 39 minutes and 41 seconds remaining off a headed goal from freshman forward Segun Afolabi. The goal was assisted by Monge for his second assist of the night.
At halftime, redshirt freshman goalkeeper Eoin Gawronski was subbed into the game and made his first appearance for Temple.
“I thought the team needed a bit of a boost,” Rowland said. “Looked like we’d given up a couple goals I wasn’t happy with. And certainly thought that for us to get after it in the second half we needed to try to make a change, make a play, do something that could help the team.”
The Owls recorded shots in the 50th and 54th minutes, but those attempts by junior midfielder Fabian Grant and Eijgendaal both went high. At the 58-minute mark, Temple earned a free kick and Eijgendaal headed a shot on goal but it was saved by Bulls junior goalkeeper Kazuna Takase.
“I thought today we looked more dangerous, because we got good service, and I think that that was step one,” Rowland said. “At the end of the day we’ve got to manufacture goals from any situation we can rather run of play or if teams present us with free kicks and corners which they did.”
In the 78th minute, Gawronski made a phenomenal diving save to his right on freshman forward Oscar Resano’s breakaway shot. This was Gawronski’s first collegiate save, and he kept it a one goal game.
“I was impressed,” said senior defender Esteban Suarez. “He stepped in, being his first game, he had a great save, especially with that clear chance that USF had during the second half. He was vocal throughout the game which was also impressive to be his first game. If there’s something positive out of this game, it has to be Eoin’s debut with the team.”
Cohen tallied a shot from a free kick in the 84th minute but his shot went just wide of the net. This was also Temple’s last shot of the game as they only recorded two shots on goal, a season-low for the squad.
“It’s not good enough,” Rowland said. “One of the areas we identified before the game was creating shots and finding opportunities to get shots off. I thought it was slightly better in the second half, but again we’re not getting into dangerous enough spaces, we’re not ready to shoot.”
“Our problem today was not being creative enough in the final third,” Suarez added.
USF’s senior midfielder Diego Guerrero was issued a yellow card in the 86th minute and the visitors closed out the victory. The Bulls had four yellow cards in the match and the Owls ended up with two yellow cards in the losing effort.
Temple is set to face Southern Methodist University (3-0, 3-0 The American) on March 6 at 6 p.m. at the Temple Sports Complex to complete its four game homestand.