The scoreboard at the Temple Sports Complex did not tell the true story of the game.
Temple men’s soccer possessed the ball for the majority of the game but were unable to capitalize in a 1-0 season-opening loss to Rutgers University on Thursday night.
The Owls forced the Scarlet Knights to play defensive in their defensive end consistently through the night. Temple outshot Rutgers 15-7 but only sent 5 of those shots on net.
Second-year head coach Brian Rowland was “pleased” with the Owls’ performance but emphasized that the team did not take advantage of their high number of scoring chances.
“I thought that we really were the dominant team,” Rowland said following the game. “It was clear that we controlled the game and forced them into deep positions. Unfortunately, we were unable to find enough break through’s to create quality opportunities.”
After a scoreless first half, sophomore midfielder Andres Charles committed a foul in the box that gifted Rutgers a penalty-kick opportunity. Rutgers freshman midfielder Jorgen Wisth Lie beat Owls goaltender Simon Lefebvre five minutes into the second half to give the Scarlet Knights a 1-0 lead.
Rowland didn’t particularly agree with the call on Charles, but Rowland was more concerned with the Owls’ inability to finish. Last season, 14 of Temple’s 19 games were decided by one goal while the Owls were held scoreless in 5 of those games.
Senior forward Lukas Fernandes, Temple’s leading scorer last season, led the Owls with three shots on goal in 57 minutes. Rutgers freshman goaltender Oren Asher, however, was up to the task recording five saves.
“We needed to certainly take our chances earlier in the game and maybe create a little bit more from our possession,” Rowland said.
The Owls’ defense stiffled the Scarlet Knights’ attack for majority of the game. It took 17 minutes for Rutgers to record its first shot on goal. Rowland was happy with his team’s defensive performance on Tuesday but believes the Owls will be truly tested in their next game on Monday by Georgetown University.
While preparing for Rutgers prior to Thursday, Rowland thought the Owls could beat the Scarlet Knights’ defense with long runs and through balls over the top.
That gameplan benefited Temple’s first substitute, freshman forward Aly Camara. Speed, skill and aggression are Camara’s strengths, he said. On multiple occasions, Camara received a long pass and beat a Rutgers defender, giving Temple a scoring chance.
“I was looking to take advantage of my opportunity,” Camara said. “If they gave me space, that was really good for me. Obviously, they were on the after good amount of time, once they saw that I can take my space, but I feel like I adjusted well through the game.”
The freshman played 54 minutes, the most of any Temple sub. Rowland was “happy” with the freshman’s debut for the Owls.
“[Camra] brings a lot of energy, he is dynamic and works exceptionally hard,” Rowland said. “He gives us pace and aggression up top. We recruited him to be that kind of player.”
With one minute remaining in the first half, Camara beat a Rutgers senior defender Jake Longo along the sideline forcing Longo to foul Camara just outside the 18-yard box. Longo received the game’s only yellow card after the foul.
Temple sophomore midfielder Andres Charles then lined up to take the free-kick but just missed the left post, leaving the game scoreless heading into halftime.
The Owls will look to get the losing taste out of their mouth on Monday when they take on Georgetown University. Camara is excited for the opportunity to bounce back.
“[Monday] is a good way to bounce back,” Camara said. “We got a game in a few days, so we don’t have to live with the misery for too long and can bounce back and get a win on the road.”