Owls’ offense still searching for rhythm

Temple University men’s soccer head coach Brian Rowland attributes lack of success on offense towards the inability to score first.

Liam Cummings (center), sophomore goalkeeper, puts his hands up to block a ball during the Owls' game against Princeton University at Temple Sports Complex on Oct. 6. | RJ FRANCESCHINI

Temple University men’s soccer (2-6-2, 0-5-0 The American Athletic Conference) has continuously struggled to score this season. 

The Owls have converted on eight goals out of 86 shots, which has led to three shutout wins by conference opponents.  

Head coach Brian Rowland has emphasized getting the first shot, goal and tackle of the game in practice the last couple of weeks, said sophomore forward Mike Eijgendaal.

“In soccer you always go into the game with the intention to get the most shots, get the first goal,” Eijgendaal added. “I feel like the last couple of games we have focused on that in the game plan.”

The Owls five-game losing streak, which is the team’s longest losing streak since 2014, can be attributed to a lack of scoring, specifically scoring first in games. In five of the six total losses this season, the Owls went in the half scoreless and their opponents capitalized on their lack of play-making on offense. 

Temple scored three goals in the first three games of the season, but since then, the Owls have only scored five goals in the last seven games played.

Rowland had to shuffle around the lineup in the previous games against conference opponents to see if they could get any rhythm going on offense, he said. 

“We have had the pieces,” Rowland said. “We know we have depth, it’s just about knowing how to get the most out of the team.”

Temple ranks last in the AAC in many offensive categories including shots, goals, assists and points. 

Against the No. 18 Southern Methodist University on Sept. 18, the Owls fell behind 2-0 in the first half, and Temple’s offense only produced four shots on goal in the second half compared to the Mustangs nine, which led to the Owls 4-1 loss. 

In a more recent game against the University of Memphis on Sept. 29, Temple fell behind 2-0 in the first half again and couldn’t produce a single goal in the second. 

Rowland attributed the inability to perfect their shots due to the quick game turnaround each week which left less time for practice in between matches, he said. 

“It’s on us to continue to find ways to create ideas and balance in the team,” Rowland said. “We’re not reinventing the wheel, we’ve just, you know, continued to trust our process and improvement and finding ways to get this group together and getting them to click a little bit.”

Opponents have outshot the Owls 51 to 32 in the first half and 64 to 39 in the second half this season. 

The disparity in shots has led to pressure on the defense for newly inserted sophomore goalkeeper Liam Cummings, after redshirt-freshman goalkeeper Eoin Gawronski suffered a Jones fracture in his left foot against Villanova University on Sept. 11.

Redshirt-sophomore defenseman Marques Antonie believes the defense has been defending well in their previous games. But the Owls’ lack of scoring has put more pressure on the defense, who can’t keep up the pace throughout the entirety of a game, he said.

“We have full confidence in everyone up top in the midfield to score goals,” Antonie. “We’ve seen it before in the past so it will come hopefully sooner rather than later.”

Memphis (4-6-1, 3-2-0 AAC)  and the University of South Florida (3-6-1, 1-4-0 AAC) are the only two teams out of the Owls’ remaining six games in the regular season that have been outscored by their opponents. 

Rowland also believes confidence can be a game changer for the offense to score goals, he said.

“We’ve had good finishes two seasons, the last couple years,” Rowland said. “Hopefully the group understands that it’s been done before and they’re prepared and ready.”

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