Before Thursday night, Temple hadn’t won a game in American Athletic Conference play since the last regular-season game in 2015 when it beat Houston at the Ambler Sports Complex.
The Owls ended last season with 10 losses in a row, including nine defeats against team in The American.
Temple (5-4-1, 1-0 The American) opened conference play with a 1-0 win against East Carolina at the Temple Sports Complex to break a stretch of 10 straight losses in conference regular-season and postseason matches.
Senior midfielder Elana Falcone scored on a rebound off a blocked shot in the 49th minute. She now has three goals in 2017. Falcone didn’t score in 19 games in 2016 after recording six goals in 2015.
“We had a really strong attack moving the ball towards the goal, and I was just kind of hanging back in case anything bounced out,” Falcone said. “Sure enough I was right at the top of the [18-yard box], and I was able to get a good shot off.”
The Pirates outshot the Owls 6-2 in the first half and forced sophomore goalkeeper Morgan Basileo to make three saves.
Basileo faced six shots on net on Thursday night. She had to make two diving saves in a matter of five seconds in the first half to keep the game tied. Basileo made her sixth career start and has now allowed just two goals in 515 minutes this season.
“We practice diving saves like that all the time, and obviously it feels really good to make them in a game,” Basileo said. “Their offense played really well, but our defense did a great job of adjusting and holding them scoreless through the entire game.”
The Owls’ shutout victory marks the first time in the four-year series history that the Owls have defeated the Pirates. East Carolina earned its only conference win last season on Oct. 27 against Temple.
“When the conference schedule came out and we saw that we were playing [East Carolina] first, we were really nervous,” coach Seamus O’Connor said. “They’re a team that always plays really well against us, but I think it was our ability to play as a team for 90 minutes that was the difference.”
The Owls will return to their home field for another conference battle on Sunday at 1 p.m. against Cincinnati. The Bearcats (8-1-2, 2-0-1 The American) received votes in Tuesday’s United Soccer Coaches poll and were ranked 12th in the Ratings Percentage Index through Sunday’s games.