Chas Wilson found himself in the right place at the right time.
The redshirt-senior forward’s goal in the 88th minute marked the difference between a loss and a draw Wednesday afternoon, as Temple played to a 1-1 draw against Central Florida at the Ambler Sports Complex.
The Owls were furiously looking for a tying goal in the closing minutes, throwing everybody forward to try and find the equalizer.
Junior midfielder/forward drilled a shot from right outside the penalty box, and Black Knight redshirt sophomore goalie Zach Biggs made the diving save to his right. But Wilson jumped on the rebound and deposited the ball into the lower right-hand corner, tying the game with less than two and a half minutes remaining in regulation.
After two scoreless ten-minute overtime periods, the game ended in a 1-1 draw.
Wilson said he knew Biggs’ hands were questionable because of his scouting and preparation, but added he’s been strong in recognizing when rebounds could occur throughout his collegiate career.
“That’s just something I’ve always known,” Wilson said. “Being in the right place is almost a sixth sense.”
Even with the goal, the Owls could have won the game if it weren’t for a lapse in defense with just under two minutes remaining in the opening half.
Senior goalie Dan Scheck bailed out his defense by coming off his line and making a sliding save on UCF’s leading goal-scorer, junior midfielder/forward Romario Williams. But after the initial save, Temple couldn’t clear the ball, and freshman midfielder/forward Matias Pyysalo found it about 12 yards right in front of the net.
The Helsinki, Finland native converted the chance, sending a shot into the bottom left corner. Coach David MacWilliams was upset not only because it was a cheap goal, but also because he preaches playing strong defense at the beginning and end of halves.
“You never want to give up goals in the last five minutes of the half,” MacWilliams said. “We have to make sure we’re getting the ball out … and we’re not giving up those kind of goals.”
In the first half, the Owls were outshot by the Black Knights 7-5, but actually controlled more of the ball. The issue was Temple spent much of the time in its own half, switching the play from sideline to sideline, only occasionally working forward and creating chances in the final third.
The rest of the game was a different story. Temple outshot UCF 11-2 the rest of the way, including a 5-0 margin in both overtime periods. The buildup was crisper through the middle, and the offense created better chances than much of the first half.
A key to this success was the back line buckling down after giving up a bad goal, something that didn’t happen in a 3-0 loss Saturday night to South Florida. Sophomore defender Stefan Mueller said mental strength was the difference between the two matches.
“After the first goal, sometimes we just collapse in the back,” Mueller said. “This time, we kept our heads … we knew how UCF was going to play … [we] played strong in the back, and things went well for us today after that goal.”
UCF came into the contest with only one win on the season. But the Black Knights have tied in all three of their American Athletic Conference matches thus far, illustrating how competitive the conference is.
Because of this, MacWilliams said there’s no easy game in the American.
“Every one of these games is a battle,” MacWilliams said. “Both teams had some opportunities … [and] we hit the crossbar three or four times … I think we’re fighting to get points, and it’s tough.”
Forward Olli Tynkkynen was a particular victim of the woodwork. The freshman from Lahti, Finland drilled the crossbar twice in the game, once in each half. If one of those chances were six inches lower, Temple would have won its third match of the season. Mueller said his impact on the field radiates throughout the team.
“He’s one of our best finishers on our team,” Mueller. “It’s very unfortunate … the first one would have been a brilliant goal, but he played well, [and] our team plays well when he plays well.”
Looking ahead, the Owls face Southern Methodist University Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. at Ambler. MacWilliams said the game is a “must-win,” given it’s the second-to-last home match for his team this season.
“You have to take care of your home games,” MacWilliams said. “It’s going to be a tough game for us, but we have to get a result there.”
Wilson’s goal was his third on the year, which is the most on the team … Coincidentally, Matias Pyysalo is from the same hometown as Temple freshman forward Joonas Jokinen … Jokinen saw his first action since Sept. 17, but left after three minutes of play when he re-pulled his right hamstring … Williams earns his second assist of the season for UCF, who only have three as a team this fall … Temple moves to 2-7-2 (1-1-1 the American), while UCF moves to 1-5-4 (0-0-3 the American).