Temple men’s soccer (2-5, 0-1 The American Athletic Conference) fell, 2-0, to the University of Central Florida (6-1-1, 1-0 The American) Friday night in Orlando, Florida.
Their scoring troubles haunted the team once again as they only registered four total shots and two on goal.
In the 57th minute, sophomore defender Mickael Borger received his second yellow card of the game, which equaled a red card and led to his ejection. The Owls played with 10 men on the field for the rest of the match.
Coach Brian Rowland said being down a player made it more difficult for the Owls to win the ball from the Knights without “exposing ourselves in the back.”
“Certainly once we did win the ball, they had us pinned very deep in our own half,” Rowland said. “So you know all those things factoring in made it challenging for us to shift from defending their attacks to being able to run around.”
Temple substituted players more often than in previous matches, which was partly due to the humidity in Orlando, Rowland said. After Borger was ejected, it became a necessity.
“It was definitely hot and humid, so we needed to use our bench,” Rowland said. “Obviously going down a player threw a little of us off. We switched in some of the guys to try to maintain some level of energy in the game. So it was probably a little bit in the first half by design with the humidity and trying to keep some legs fresh in the second half.”
Central Florida, which is ranked No. 12 in the United Coaches poll, opened up the scoring in the third minute when junior midfielder Yoni Sorokin headed in a goal off a corner kick by junior midfielder Louis Perez. This was the Knights’ only shot of the first half.
“Obviously with 87 minutes left, I thought we would still have momentum, which we did in the first half,” Rowland added.
As the half went along, Temple put together a few chances and even earned a set piece but they could not capitalize.
Then, the Owls defense committed a hand ball in the penalty box. Sorokin’s penalty kick hit the post and it remained a 1-0 game at halftime.
Central Florida came out strong in the second half, as they totaled 10 shots compared to none for Temple. Eight of those shots came after Borger’s ejection.
“So you know with 11 players, you understood the defensive work that was going to have to go in,” Rowland said. “Once we went down to 10 men, I think it certainly was going to be a lot more difficult for us to cover the ground and deal with their possession as well as valves.”
Central Florida put the final touches on the game in the 77th minute when freshman forward Jonas Schmalbach smashed in a goal following Perez’s pass from inside the penalty box.
The Owls will play their next two games at home. Temple will face Old Dominion University on Tuesday at 3 p.m.
The Owls will then host Cincinnati at 7 p.m. Saturday in the first home conference game of the season.
“We just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing, take lessons from our games and prepare for the next game as [if] this is our biggest game of the season,” Rowland said. “And [I think] we will, we’ll get the guys ready, our goal is to go out and win our next game and we approach each game that way.”