Temple’s last-ditch effort falls short against Pitt

In the 88th minute, the Owls recorded three shots on goal in a 47-second span before losing, 3-2 to Pitt on Monday.

Hermann Doerner threw his hands on his head and lowered them in frustration as Temple University fought to tie Monday’s game against the University of Pittsburgh in the 88th minute.

The senior midfielder headed one of three Temple shots in a span of 47 seconds. A Pitt defender used his face to block Doerner’s header directed off a corner kick from junior forward Lukas Fernandes. Junior midfielder Nick Sarver followed the rebound, but he shot the ball over the net. 

Despite their comeback attempt, the Owls (4-7-3, 1-2-1 the American Athletic Conference) could not even the score in a 3-2 road loss to Pitt. 

“I’m disappointed that we weren’t able to find the equalizer,” coach Brian Rowland said. “The overriding thought is that our guys are really tough competitors, and they battled. I think the difference in the game really was that Pitt took their chances very efficiently, and I think we probably wasted a few really good looks.”

The Owls gave up three goals for the second consecutive game. The Owls lost to South Florida, 3-2, in overtime on Friday. 

In the past two games, junior goalkeeper Simon Lefebvre has allowed six goals on 13 shots on goal. Excluding those matches, Lefebvre gave up nine goals in 10 games, equaling 0.90 goals per game average for Temple opponents. His goals against average now stands at 1.22. 

“There’s room for improvement there,” Rowland said. “But I think it’s also in part that the teams we’ve played are very good and they create opportunities and make plays.”

A Temple foul gave Pitt senior midfielder Javi Perez a penalty kick, which he converted in the 27th minute to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead. 

“I don’t think [Pitt] had really created a ton of opportunities up until [the penalty], so it certainly put us down,” Rowland said. “We fought back and showed that we can score goals, but I think it certainly changed the game.”

Pitt managed just four shots in the first half compared to Temple’s six. The Owls outshot the Panthers 16-11, but Pitt ended with one more shot on goal. 

Freshman forward Elias Hellgren Villegas scored his first goal this season on Temple’s first quality chance in the second half to tie the game in the 50th minute. Fernandes used a through ball to assist Hellgren Villegas’s goal. 

The Panthers minimized Temple’s momentum from its goal when Pitt scored in the 62nd minute and then again just 4:03 later to extend their lead to 3-1. 

Fernandes responded with a goal of his own in the 80th minute to keep the Owls’ comeback hopes alive. Temple’s leading goal-scorer tallied his fifth goal of the season and recorded his second game with at least one goal and assist. 

“[Fernandes] made plays and certainly gives us some dynamic play in the final third,” Rowland said. “He’s been a good bright spot, and we know what we can get from him on a game-to-game basis.”

The Owls only have one remaining non-conference game on Oct. 23 against Penn. Their next game is against conference opponent Connecticut (7-2-2, 2-0-2 The American) on Saturday. Connecticut and USF are tied with eight points atop The American, and the Huskies are undefeated in conference play. 

Temple has four points, which is tied with Memphis and three points behind Central Florida and Southern Methodist. The top six teams, a group that currently includes the Owls, qualify for the conference tournament.

Though it wouldn’t have counted in The American’s standings, beating the Panthers would have given Temple its first victory since Oct. 3, instead of extending its winless streak to three games.

“Wins can build momentum, so an out-of-conference win can get you feeling good going into a conference game, but certainly, the conference is the big decider, big factor,” Rowland said. “You’d like to get the win so that you can build some momentum, but I think playing a good opponent can do that as well. It can get us prepared to be successful just the same.”

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