Temple University men’s soccer (7-6-1, 3-1-1 The American Athletic Conference) defeated Connecticut (4-10-1, 1-4 The AAC) 2-1 Saturday night at the Temple Sports Complex.
The Owls have won four straight contests since Oct. 12 when they defeated Memphis (9-4, 3-1 The AAC).
The game was evenly matched with UConn leading in shots 9-8. Temple scored first when sophomore defender Mickael Borger tapped in a rebound off a free kick in the 26th minute, scoring his second goal of the season.
“It’s definitely something we work on all the time in practice,” Borger said. “We were very happy when it worked.”
UConn responded eight minutes later after sophomore defender Esteban Suarez collided with senior goalkeeper Simon Lefebvre, which allowed junior defender Jake Dengler to punch in an easy goal for the Huskies.
The Owls were lucky to still be tied after a long shot double-doinked off the crossbar, and Lefebvre knocked it away. The Huskies had a couple of quality looks early in the second half, but both sailed over the protective net and kept the game tied.
The intensity picked up in the 52nd minute, when Dengler collided with sophomore forward Elias Hellgren Villegas, who took a pair of cleats to the chest. Hellgren Villegas was shaken up and had to exit, but returned later in the game. Dengler picked up a red card on a play that turned the momentum of the game.
“I thought it looked like two players trying to make a play and the referee had the best vantage point,” coach Brian Rowland said. “If it was a red, I trust that he was in the right place to make the right call.”
Eight minutes later, junior defender Pierre Cayet put the Owls back in front with a header off a corner kick.
“I wanted to go first post, but I saw three defenders there,” Cayet said. “I had to step back to the back post, and the pass from [senior forward] Lukas [Fernandes] was great and I made the play.”
Cayet has scored goals in consecutive games.
“It’s a great feeling because we have momentum,” Cayet said. “We gotta keep that going because it’s the end of the season, and it’s getting very serious right now.”
This is a critical point in the season, and the Owls seemed to have figured it out, Rowland said.
“We just have to focus, game by game, training session by training session” Rowland said. “The best way to keep this momentum going is to focus on details and no short cuts.”
Next, the Owls go to Oklahoma to face Tulsa (4-7, 0-3 The AAC) on Friday at 7 p.m.