Women’s soccer loses ‘leadership,’ falls to Southern Methodist

The Owls allowed a goal within the first two minutes of the second half of their 2-0 loss to the Mustangs on Sunday afternoon at the Temple Sports Complex.

Redshirt-senior forward Kayla Cunningham takes a shot on goal during a practice drill at the Temple Sports Complex on Wednesday. JAMIE COTTRELL / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Southern Methodist sophomore forward and midfielder Allie Thornton’s goal flipped the momentum of Sundays’ game.

The Owls (6-7-2, 2-3-1 American Athletic Conference) outshot the Mustangs by four in the first 45 minutes, but they allowed the game’s first goal just one minute, three seconds into the second half. Southern Methodist outshot Temple by seven in the final 45 minutes of its 2-0 win at the Temple Sports Complex.

Temple was held scoreless for the seventh time this season on eight shots, only one of which was on goal.

With three conference games remaining, the Owls are in sixth place. The American’s postseason tournament is a competition between the league’s six best teams.

“I thought our maturity and leadership disappeared today,” coach Seamus O’Connor said. “I told the team right after the game that you can’t afford to get down on yourselves after we go down a goal.”

Southern Methodist freshman midfielder Katia Novi added the second goal 29:33 after Thornton’s tally. The Mustangs forced sophomore goalkeeper Morgan Basileo to make three second-half saves and four overall. Her record dropped to 5-4-2 after making her first start on Aug. 31.

“I think they were just pressing on us a little bit,” Basileo said. “Our defense plays really well and mistakes happen and it’s something we’ll work on and fix for the future.”

The Owls honored midfielders Elana Falcone and Victoria Dutille and forwards Gabriella McKeown, Kayla Cunningham and Morgan Glassford before the game for senior day. All five players started the Owls’ final regular-season home game.

Glassford and Dutille, who played in her sixth game of the season on Sunday, made their second starts of the year. Falcone and McKeown have started all 15 games, and Cunningham has played in every game and made 13 starts.

“It was definitely emotional playing my final 90 minutes on this field,” said Cunningham, who transferred to Temple after playing field hockey for the University of Indiana Bloomington in 2013. “It was heartbreaking losing this game, but playing at Temple has just been a great experience.”

The Owls will travel to Florida to face South Florida on Thursday and Central Florida on Sunday. Central Florida leads the conference with 16 points, and South Florida is in second place with 15 points.

“This upcoming trip is obviously very important to our chances of making the playoffs,” O’Connor said. “These remaining games are all going to be very tough, and we’re going to need to play some really good soccer.”

Note: The Temple News cited an American Athletic Conference publication that misstated the number of teams that qualify for the postseason. This story has been updated to reflect the correct number of playoff teams.

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