Temple men’s soccer loses regular-season finale

The Owls lost 2-1 to Southern Methodist in double overtime.

Senior forward Lukas Fernandes attempts to steal the ball from SMU senior defender Eddie Munjoma during the Owls' final regular-season game against SMU at the Temple Sports Complex on Nov. 5. | JEREMY ELVAS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple University men’s soccer (7-7-2, 3-2-2 The American Athletic Conference) lost to No. 11 Southern Methodist (14-1-1, 5-1-1 The AAC) 2-1 in double overtime with five minutes remaining in the second overtime period on Tuesday night. 

With the loss, Temple finished fifth in The American.

This was a heartbreaking defeat for the Owls in their final regular-season game at the Temple Sports Complex, coach Brian Rowland said.

“Certainly a bit of an empty feeling because I felt like we were deserving of something from the game but also proud of the way we played, and I think certainly we’ve shown that we can play with anybody,” he said. 

Senior forward Lukas Fernandes saw the first scoring chance of the night in the third minute as he created space outside the box, but his curling effort sailed over the crossbar.

“It being senior night, the last home game, the guys put everything out on the field and ball rolled the wrong way for us,” Fernandes said.

“We wanted more, getting a loss in overtime is brutal,” he added. “We put so much hard work and effort in and to just come out with a loss, it’s tough.”

In the 23rd minute, junior defender Pierre Cayet made a goal-line save to keep the game scoreless.

In the 38th minute, Cayet made a slide tackle on a Mustangs breakaway to deny senior midfielder DJ Williams a goal.

The match included 29 fouls and seven yellow cards between the two teams. 

“We knew what we were going to get ourselves in for and thought the guys battled well and did a good job,” Rowland said.

In the 60th minute, sophomore forward Elias Hellgren Villegas’ shot hit off the post following freshman forward Sean Karani’s run down the wing.

“I think we got all the right pieces, we’re just getting a little bit unlucky,” Fernandes said.

Senior defender Nick Sarver blocked a shot from Mustangs senior forward Garrett McLaughlin in the 65th minute. Sarver played 105 minutes in the match after only making five appearances all season.

“That was a good game for all of us, even for Sarver and the guys that are not really used to play,” Cayet said.

The Mustangs finally broke through for the first goal in the 68th minute, as sophomore midfielder Knut Ahlander finished his shot into the back of the net.

“I think we’re showing that we’re capable with our play, and we certainly need to find ways to get on the right side of the margin. In some games we deserve it,” Rowland said.

A minute later, Fernandes sent in a pass from a free kick to Hellgren Villegas. Hellgren Villegas received the ball and flicked it to Cayet, who slotted the ball into the net to even the score at 1-1.

“That was a great play, but obviously defensively I had some good moments too,” Cayet said. 

Karani was close to giving Temple the lead in the 81st minute, but Mustangs junior goalkeeper Grant Makela made a reaction save.

“We know what to do in the final third.” Fernandes said. “We know what to do in the back and our effort is unmatched. You can’t fault our effort, but things are going to start rolling our way.”

Senior goalkeeper Simon Lefebvre made a save in the 84th minute when McLaughlin took a shot on goal from close range. Lefebvre had five saves that night.

“Obviously it was a tough loss, but defensively, I feel like we had no regrets,” Cayet said.

In the 106th minute, McLaughlin beat Lefebvre and scored his 15th goal of the season to lift the Mustangs to a win.

Temple will take on fourth-seed Memphis on the road Saturday in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament at 8 p.m. 

The Owls beat the Tigers 2-1 in double overtime on Oct. 12 in Memphis.

“We’ll bounce back, and we’ll be ready for Saturday,” Fernandes said.

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