Temple men’s soccer secures season-opening victory against Lehigh

The Owls won their first game of the season with a shutout at home on Thursday night.

Temple University Men's Soccer forward Yann Kouemi scores a goal early in the game Thursday night at temple sports complex. I EARL KUFEN/THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple University men’s soccer (1-0, 0-0- American Athletic Conference) defeated Lehigh University (0-1, 0-0 Patriot League) 1-0 in front of more than 500 at the Temple Sports Complex on Thursday night. This was the largest crowd at a Temple men’s soccer game since 2019.

“The fans always help us,” said redshirt junior goalkeeper Eoin Gawronski. “I think we build off of the fan energy, which is always as important for us.”

Temple started the game on a strong note as senior forward Yann Kouemi scored his first goal of the season and for Temple at the 6:30 mark to put the Owls up 1-0. Senior forward Mike Eijgendaal dribbled the ball down the right flank before sending in a low cross to Kouemi inside the box who slotted it into the upper portion of the net.

“It felt unreal, I’ve been waiting for this chance since I came in last year,” Kouemi said. “I was just excited, I wanted to score another one but I’ll save it for Monday. As soon as I saw Mike run and get the ball I had to make sure I got in front of the goalie before the goalie got there and tap it in, I have a good chemistry with Mike.”

Then the game started to get intense when Lehigh freshman defender Sam Davis received a yellow card for a late and dangerous slide tackle at the 14-minute mark.

The Mountain Hawks threatened to score a few minutes later at the 21-minute mark when junior midfielder Athanasios Cosse’s low-driven shot inside the box was saved and pushed off the post by Gawronski. Immediately after, Lehigh senior forward Jack Sarkos quickly fired off a rebound shot that was cleared off the goal line by Temple graduate student defender Elyad Shojaei.

In the 30th minute, senior forward Chaim Roserie crossed a ball across the face of the goal inside the box to sophomore midfielder Tessho Kobayashi, but his shot was saved by Lehigh sophomore goalkeeper Ryan Gross. Koboyashi’s rebound shot was then blocked by a Lehigh defender.

“If we could have scored a couple of the chances that we created it probably would have been a different game, but we’ll take the win,” Rowland said. 

There was end-to-end action for the remainder of the game but only one shot on goal in the second half that was saved by Gawronski. Lehigh had a scoring opportunity in the 80th minute when freshman midfielder Yusef Gueye ripped a shot outside the box but it went high and it remained a 1-0 game.

Davis received a second yellow card in the 83rd minute for a strategic foul to stop Kouemi as he was beginning the start of his breakaway to goal.

The Owls ultimately held onto their one-goal lead, winning their first game of the season. Gawronski recorded five saves in the victory on top of his fifth shutout in his collegiate career.

The Temple offense registered five shots and three shots on goal in the winning effort.

“I think it’s a scary partnership for us,” Kouemi said. “Running at the defense, I think that’s really scary, we just need to keep working on movement together but I think every day we keep improving on that so I’m very excited for the games coming up.”

Temple will stay at home to face Seton Hall (1-0, 0-0 Big East) on Aug. 29 with a 7 p.m. kickoff at the Temple Sports Complex.

“Winning is good, we’re very much in the early phases of our team,” said head coach Brian Rowland. “I thought we performed some things well and other things we looked like we’re not quite there, which is fine.”

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