Senior forward Lukas Fernandes crossed the ball into the box before it made its way to sophomore forward Elias Hellgren Villegas. The ball eventually went to sophomore midfielder Jalen Campbell, who pounced on it in the 103rd minute to give Temple men’s soccer their first conference tournament victory in The American on Saturday night in Memphis.
Campbell propelled Temple (8-7-2, 3-2-2 The American Athletic Conference) to a 2-1 victory over Memphis (10-7, 4-3 The AAC) in a come-from-behind win in double overtime of the quarterfinal match.
With just two minutes left in regulation, sophomore defender Esteban Suarez scored on a hard shot to send the match to overtime.
Brian Rowland recorded his first playoff win with the team in his second season as coach. Rowland is now 1-1 in conference tournament play.
“But this is you know the time of year where there is no tomorrow so we have to play with that sort of urgency and determination,” Rowland said.
Fernandes recorded the first shot on goal in the 21st minute when his attempt fell into the arms of Tigers sophomore goalkeeper Parker Lackland.
The Tigers scored the first goal in the 24th minute when forward/midfielder senior Sam Ashton received a through ball from junior midfielder Christoforos Kourtis. Ashton slotted the ball into the right side of the net on a one-on-one opportunity against senior goalkeeper Simon Lefebvre.
“You know, we just challenged them to be the best version of ourselves we could be at the time that was most critical,” Rowland said. “And this was basically our season, you know to survive and advance. So with that sort of reality on the horizon, we challenged them to make sure they didn’t leave anything on the table, and no regrets at the end of the day, and they certainly did that.”
Hellgren Villegas ripped off two dangerous shots on goal in the 41st and 45th minutes, but Lackland made reaction saves both times.
“I thought they responded exceptionally well in the second half and you know we pressed for that entire period to try to get a goal,” Rowland said.
In the 55th minute of play, freshman forward Sean Karani fought his way through defenders in the middle of the field. Karani’s low shot attempt went wide right.
Late in the game, Temple pushed forward to try to find the tying goal. In the 89th minute, Fernandes weaved through the Tigers’ defense and crossed the ball to Esteban Suarez. Suarez blasted the ball into the goal to force overtime.
“It just came down to desire, and work rate, and grit, and the guys competed and you know obviously I felt like we were going to get one but we left it very late,” Rowland said.
The Owls had the majority of the scoring chances in the first overtime period as they notched three shots on goal. It took Temple only three minutes to tally the winner in the second overtime.
“And then I thought once we had that goal, the momentum had shifted and we were getting pressed to try to win the game,” Rowland said. “We just pushed on and kept going, didn’t quit.”
In double overtime, Hellgren Villegas passed it to redshirt-junior defender Brandon Johnson who passed it off to Karani. Karani then kicked it near the six-yard line before Campbell tapped the ball into the net and gave the Owls the victory.
“We know we’re not done yet,” Fernandes said. “We have a lot more to give as a team so we’re taking each game at a time to play as long as possible.”
Temple will take on Central Florida (13-1-2, 6-0-1 The AAC) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the semifinals of the conference tournament.
“We’ve been there already this season so you know we’re just prepared to go to that game and give our best effort and show that we’re a much-improved team than the last time that we were there,” Rowland said.