Temple men’s soccer starts season with two losses

Temple lost to Rutgers University, 1-0, on a converted penalty kick on Thursday night, before losing 3-0 to Georgetown University on Monday afternoon.

Lukas Fernandes (left) tries to make a tackle in Temple's 1-1 draw with Memphis on October 6, 2018. Fernandes scored twice the the Owls' first win of the 2019 season. | JUSTIN OAKES / FILE PHOTO

Temple men’s soccer has not scored a goal through their first two games of the 2019 season.

The Owls could not find the back of the net in both games, causing them to start the season with two losses. The Owls lost its season-opening game to Rutgers University, 1-0, on Thursday at the Temple Sports Complex.

Even though the Owls led in shots and corner kicks, they could not find the back of the net. A converted penalty kick by Scarlet Knights freshman midfielder Jorgen Wisth Lie in the 51st minute led to the Owls’ loss.

“I thought we played well, but the game is 90 minutes,” senior forward Lukas Fernandes said. “You can’t let up any minute of the game. And we slipped up and it cost us a goal.”

The Owls started off early with offensive pushes and sustained possession. For the first 10 minutes, junior defender Pierre Cayet managed the back line and kept the ball above midfield. Sophomore forward Elias Hellgren Villegas managed a majority of the offensive rushes and produced many chances for the Owls.

The Owls’ first chance at a goal came six minutes into the game. After Rutgers cleared the ball past their own endline, freshman midfielder Amir Cohen had a chance at a corner kick. The Scarlet Knights cleared the ball away from the net without allowing Cohen to get a shot off. 

Rutgers began to answer back about fifteen minutes later as they pushed to put the ball in the back of the net. Rutgers pushed to put the ball in the back of the net, but Cayet blocked two shots and cleared the ball three times during the five-minute onslaught. 

Coach Brian Rowland appreciated the hustle by his players, especially the younger ones.  

“Hopefully going forward we’re much better at home in terms of getting the result,” Rowland said. “The freshmen did well. We’re very young, a lot of freshmen, a lot of sophomores on the field but they got to grow up quick.”

The Owls’ rotation featured eight new players, including five in the starting lineup. Freshman forward Aly Camara was one of the players who came off the bench. 

“I was really really nervous at first,” Camara said. “However, once the game was going, it was just flying for me. I wanted to do the best job for my team. I came off the bench, and I definitely wanted to come in and make an impact right away. I feel like I brought some good energy to the game.

Camara, who replaced Fernandes in the 23rd minute, produced several opportunities for the Owls. He played with a lot of energy and produced a lot of opportunities for Temple, Rowland said. 

In the 44th minute, Camara was fouled by Scarlet Knights senior defender Jake Longo, who received a yellow card. Sophomore midfielder Andres Charles missed the free kick, which would have given the Owls a shot at taking the lead heading into the locker room. 

Temple’s final chance of the game came in the 87th minute. Sophomore defender Mikael Borger took a shot from outside but Scarlet Knights freshman goalkeeper Oren Asher made a diving save to preserve the lead.

Rowland said after the game that the only thing holding his team back is experience.

“It’s a long time before our first conference game,” Rowland said. “Our conference is exceptionally good. We’ve got a lot of quality teams in our league … I’m confident in the group we have and there’s answers in here. We will be better each game. And as we can build some of the connections, I think you’ll only see better and better version of us as we go.”

After its loss to Rutgers, Temple lost to nationally ranked Georgetown University, 3-0, on Monday in Washington D.C.

The Hoyas, who are ranked sixth in the United Soccer Coaches poll, scored two first half goals. Their first goal came in the 25th minute when sophomore midfielder Sean Zawadzki scored his first career goal. Fourteen minutes later, Hoyas senior midfielder Dylan Nelis scored on a corner kick by junior midfielder Paul Rothrock, doubling the lead for Georgetown.

The Owls had two scoring opportunities early in the match. The first came in the fifth minute when Cohen tried to score of the left side of the net, but Hoyas freshman goalkeeper Tomas Romero made the save. 

The Owls had another scoring opportunity on a corner kick in the 15th minute. Multiple Owls had a chance for a goal but Romeo did not allow the ball to go into the net. Romeo earned his first career shutout in the Hoyas’ win.

The Hoyas added another goal in the 57th minute when freshman midfielder Dante Polvara scored from almost 25 yards away from the net. Polvara already has two goals in as many games.

The Owls had nine shots in total, while the Hoyas registered 14 shots. The Owls had five shots on goal compared to seven for the Hoyas. Villegas led the Owls with two shots.

Temple was assessed five yellow cards in the match, all in the second half of play.

Despite starting the season 0-2, Fernandes is still hopeful that his team can improve moving forward.

“I think we will be one of the most dominant offenses in the American,” Fernandes said. “We just have to do the work and work together.”

The Owls look to earn their first win of the season on the road Saturday against Big 5 rival Villanova.

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