By: Max Green
Photo Courtesy: Don Felice
A trip to Tulsa, an hour delay, and a two-game losing streak was no problem for the Owls. The Owls played one of their most complete games of soccer of the season today at Tulsa.
This all started with a trend coming to an end for the Owls. The Owls did not give up a goal in the first five minutes of the game which is something that they’ve done in a majority of their games this year including both games in that two-game losing streak.
“It’s a different feeling than conceding an early goal, I’ll tell you that!” said head coach Nick Bochette.
The Owls would follow up this strong start by fixing something Bochette has been preaching, their set pieces. Not only did the Owls not allow a goal on a set-piece but Temple also was able to net their own set-piece goal. Freshman defender Roisin McGovern found herself wide open on the far post for a tap-in goal after a free-kick was whipped into the box off the head of junior forward Gabriela Johnson right into the pathway of McGovern.
“Set pieces are so important in this game, and that was evident again today,” said Bochette. “That particular set piece was one we trained explicitly this week, and the girls were excellent in their organization and execution. When you finish +1 or better on set pieces than your opponent, you always have a good chance to come away with a win.”
It was not all good news in the first half as one of Temple’s most dynamic players went down with an injury. Gabriela Johnson went down with an injury and would have to be helped off the field, where she would not return and was caught on the sideline in crutches for the Owls.
“No update on Gabi’s injury yet, other than that she’s sore. She’ll be in to see our team doctors early tomorrow morning and we should have a better idea then,” said Coach Bochette.
The Owls would go into halftime holding on to a 1-0 lead, a perfect start for this team going into what would be a wild second half.
“It makes the game so different when you’re carrying a lead. I was especially happy at the way we contributed to assert ourselves and attack the game,” said Bochette. “Sometimes you can get overly conservative and end up trying to hang on. The girls didn’t make that mistake today though, and I thought we were even better as the game wore on and we had the lead.”
The first breakthrough in the second half came when Temple Freshman Forward Emily Kavanaugh put the ball in the back of the net, only for the goal to be waived off for offside. Then an altercation between Temple Senior Forward Emma Wilkins and Tulsa Sophomore Midfielder Isold Runarsdottir turned into an official review and three yellow cards handed out to both players and Tulsa Sophomore Midfielder Jordan Martinez.
Temple would push their lead to 2-0 after Emma Wilkins curled a beautiful shot across the box and into the back of the net, giving the owls the insurance goal they needed.
“As I just mentioned, it’s so important that we didn’t close up shop and try to simply conserve our lead, which would have led to us inviting unneeded pressure on ourselves,” said Bochette. “Emma was excellent the entire match, and it was her passion and commitment that was pushing us along. Her goal was well taken, well deserved, and was very important for us.”
The Owls would close out the game, shutting out the Golden Hurricane by a 2-0 scoreline, giving the Owls their second conference win of the season.
“Yeah, I think you could look at it that way if you so choose. To be honest, however, we’ve been in very good form for a few weeks now. We played a fantastic game against SMU and we’re unlucky with some untimely mistakes and a couple of non-calls on clear offsides on their goals,” said Bochette. “Then against Memphis, we played them better than just about anyone has this year, except for Ole Miss and Vanderbilt today. So we have been looking forward to another opportunity to play, and I think the girls came out with all the right energy and commitment today. We are in the thick of the hunt for a playoff spot, and we feel really good going into our week of training leading into Houston!”
The Owls will look to take this momentum into their final scheduled game of the season, where they will travel to Houston (4-4-1) to take on the Cougars on Friday, April 2nd.