Temple (5-6-1, 2-1-1 The American Athletic Conference) took down conference-foe South Florida (8-4, 2-2 The American) 3-1 at the Temple Sports Complex on Friday.
Freshman forward Sean Karani scored his first-ever brace. Sophomore defender Esteban Suarez also scored his first-ever collegiate goal to open up the scoring in the 32nd minute.
“I think that they had a really attacking [minded] team, and I think we knew how to handle that in the two sides of the game,” Suarez said.
USF earned a scoring chance just 48 seconds into the game when junior defender Avionne Flanagan ripped off a low shot which senior goalkeeper Simon Lefebvre saved to his right on a diving stop.
“[USF] can cause problems in different areas of the field,” said coach Brian Rowland. “So I was more impressed not only with our pressure, but I thought we did a really good job of defending when we couldn’t get pressure on the ball,”
In the 12th minute the Owls saw their first chance of the game as Suarez collected a corner and whipped it right back in to find junior defender Pierre Cayet, whose attempt was easily saved by freshman goalkeeper Cooper Blay.
Temple then executed a 1-2 combination between a few players in the 14th minute as senior midfielder Leandros Lillis earned a free kick outside the box. Senior forward Lukas Fernandes stepped up to take the kick but his curling effort went off the crossbar, and the game remained scoreless.
Temple scored the first goal goal of the game in the 32nd minute when Lillis crossed an in-swinging ball on a corner kick as it made its way to Suarez who chipped the ball over a USF defender into the back of the net.
After scoring, Suarez ran directly to the stands to celebrate with his parents.
“It was like two factors of mixing in one game,” Suarez said. “Scoring my first goal is great, but having my parents here is a big motivation. They came from Mexico, and my idea of scoring was there but I never thought it was actually really going to happen, so it’s fantastic.”
The Owls entered halftime with a 1-0 lead as both teams had five total shots and two on goal.
“You know we’ve created quality chances, and we just haven’t been able to necessarily find that finishing touch,” Rowland said. “It didn’t surprise me today that we were able to combine and create good looks on goal.”
Karani gave the home side a 2-0 advantage in the 61st minute following a pass from Fernandes which allowed him to take a touch in space and score by slotting the ball into the bottom right corner.
“The ball went to Lukas [Fernandes], and I saw Lukas was dropped in and there was a big space in between the center backs,” Karani said. “So I made the run, he played it, and I finished it off.”
In the 70th minute, the Bulls made it a one goal game at 2-1, as junior midfielder Emilio Ycaza tapped in the goal.
“We knew they were going to get their chances, you know [we’re] obviously disappointed that we gave up the goal, and it made it a one goal game,” Rowland said.
Karani put the finishing touches on the match when he scored on another one-on-one chance in the 87th minute following a tactical pass from freshman midfielder Lior Nesher.
“The guys came out and took hold of the game again and found the third goal and certainly managed the remaining time,” Rowland said. “Obviously we’ve been continuing to work and plug away at our offensive rhythm.”
Temple will face Louisville (7-4-2, 2-3-1 The Atlantic Coast Conference) on Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. on the road.