Written By: Owen Boyle
Photo Courtesy of: OwlSports
Two goals from forward Jalen Campbell helped the Owls claim victory on the opening night of American Athletic Conference play. The Owls went behind early but battled back, taking the lead late in the first half and retaking it late in the second.
Temple Men’s Soccer took the field for a competitive game for the first time in 14 months. They were scheduled to play USF on Labor Day Weekend but the game was postponed after the fall season was pushed back to the spring.
USF got off to an early start with a goal in the 5th minute. Victor Claudel opened his sophomore campaign with a goal assisted by Avionne Flanagan. A loose ball in the box was slammed home by the French native after the Temple backline failed to clear.
Midway through the first 45, the Owls pounced on a turnover from USF goalie Cooper Blay for their first goal of the season. Brady O’Connor, a new transfer from George Washington, calmly fed Jalen Campbell who slotted a shot into the bottom corner.
Temple quickly took the lead just two minutes later. Esteban Suarez sent in a perfect cross which was finished off by Amir Cohen. The sophomore collected his second-career goal to give the Owls their first lead of the young season.
“We showed a lot of character and confidence,” coach Brian Rowland said. “We knew we could play and we knew we could score, we just had to do it from a goal down.”
The cherry and white went into the half with a 2-1 lead. A chippy half ended with USF notching seven fouls and two yellow cards.
It was another rough start to a half for the Owls as the Bulls grabbed an equalizer just three minutes in. Josue Monge beat Niko Hartmann with a rocket from outside the box. Monge, the senior, is a native of Philadelphia and a graduate of the Philadelphia Union Academy.
The Owls retook the lead in the 70th minute after Mike Eijgendaal sent a low pass into the path of Jalen Campbel. The junior grabbed his second of the evening, finishing off a nice team counter-attack.
“He’s (Campbell) another guy you have to worry about,” said Rowland. “He can score goals and he certainly has a nose for goal. I’m really happy for him and it’s a really good confidence-building game for him.”
Temple almost took a two-goal advantage on a breakaway. Mike Eijgendaal was denied by Blay and the follow up from Sean Karani was blocked by a trailing defender.
USF had a last gasp chance with 12 seconds left, and a dangerous free-kick was cleared away by the Temple defense. Karani drew a foul with five seconds left, enough to let the clock run out, and the final whistle was blown.
Temple took 9 shots on the evening with eight of them being on target. Transfer goalkeeper Niko Hartmann made two saves in his Temple debut.
Temple moved to 1-0 in conference play and on the season, they are tied atop the AAC standings with Tulsa and SMU. This was the Owls’ first win in a conference-opening game since 2018 against UCF.
“I am very proud of the collective effort and commitment that the group showed tonight,” Rowland said. “It was a combative game and a very challenging one, I thought we deserved to come out with three points.”
The Owls will be back in action when they host the reigning conference champions UCF, that game will take place next Saturday at 7.