Temple’s upset bid falls short on senior day

A penalty kick in the 75th minute ended the Owls’ hopes of upsetting No. 21 Connecticut, as they fell 1-0 on Saturday at the Temple Sports Complex.

Having lost their last seven games, the Owls tried to win their last home game for their seniors on Saturday against Connecticut, ranked No. 21 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of American poll.

“It was for them today” junior forward Gabriella McKeown said. “We have a board that we write on before every game that says, ‘who do you play for and what are you going to do’ and we all wrote for our seniors. We hoped to have the upset, but I think we gave [Connecticut] a hard time.”

The Owls (3-14, 0-7 American Athletic Conference) lost 1-0, dropping their eighth consecutive regular season game and seventh consecutive conference loss. Despite getting outshot 25-9 and allowing seven corner kicks, the Owls were in the game late in the second half. A penalty kick goal by Huskies’ redshirt-senior forward Stephanie Ribeiro in the 75th minute ended Temple’s upset bid.

Though it couldn’t win its final home game, the team has road games against East Carolina and Cincinnati left.

“Playing soccer means everything to me,” senior midfielder Elaine Byerley said. “It’s been my life for 16 years, so it’s great that we got to finish out on such a hard-fought game. Everyone gave it their all and it just means so much to me that they showed up for me even though UConn is a great team.”

Byerley, midfielder Paige Rachel, midfielder and defender Taylor Matsinger and defender Cydney Niedermeyer are the four graduating seniors on the team. Rachel hasn’t played this season after injuring her knee before the season. The other three seniors have combined to start 38 games this season.

The seniors have experienced several ups-and-downs. The team finished below .500 in 2013, but rebounded to win 11 games in 2014 and 12 games in 2015. They hold a record of 32-40-3 since in their four-year careers. Their experience has influenced the younger players.

“Their positivity and just always giving it their all on the field is something to look up to and as the year went on, we definitely accomplished that, give it all, a 100 percent,” McKeown said.  

Temple’s games against Connecticut can be used as benchmarks. The four seniors played in the first-ever matchup between the schools four years ago. After allowing three goals in the first two games, Temple’s last two games against the Huskies were both one-goal losses.

Although the Huskies hold the series lead 4-0, Byerley feels Temple’s time is coming soon.

“The first time we played UConn four years ago, my freshman year, they took [23] shots in the first half,” Byerley said. “So, every year we have progressed and progressed and this year we played the best we’ve ever played against them. So, maybe next year we’ll beat them 1-0, but progress is everything and we just kept it steadily going up every year.”

Serenity Bishop can be reached at serenity.bishop@temple.edu

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