Written By: Owen Boyle
Photo Courtesy of: OwlSports.com
In the spotlight of their historic victory on Saturday night, three Owls were awarded player of the week honors in the American Athletic Conference.
With a 2-0 win against number two ranked SMU, the men’s soccer program picked up their first-ever win against a top-five ranked team in their illustrious history.
Goals from Pierre Cayet and Mike Eijgendaal were enough to give the cherry and white all three points in what was the final game of a four-game homestand.
With six saves in Saturday night’s win, including five in the first half, Eoin Gawronski was awarded AAC Goalkeeper of the Week.
“It means so much to me,” said Gawronski. “I’ve been working super hard for this, to earn the shutout and get the award means a lot.”
This was Gawronski’s first collegiate start for the Owls. The redshirt freshman played 45 minutes as a halftime substitute in the team’s last loss to USF after replacing Niko Hartmann in net.
“I was really nervous going into the game,” said Gawronski. “The coaching staff was confident in me and just told me to be calm and do the right things.”
Prior to this game, SMU had scored 14 goals in just three games this season; one of the most potent offenses in college soccer. The Limerick, PA native was the first netminder to record a clean sheet against the Mustangs since September 28, 2018.
Senior captain Pierre Cayet was awarded the AAC Defensive Player of the Week. The Frenchman led the Owls backline in route to a shutout against a team that was averaging five goals per game.
“Being able to get a shutout against such a good team was really satisfying,” said Cayet. “That was the first clean sheet of the season and it was great for us mentally as defenders.
Cayet also notched his first goal this season which happened to be the first goal scored by a defender this season for Temple.
The captain slotted home a penalty kick in the 63rd minute to give the Owls a two-goal advantage and cushion their lead.
Before the season, Cayet was named the AAC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. The defender was also named to the AAC Weekly Honor Roll earlier this season after a strong performance against Memphis.
“It’s nice for me to stand out during my senior season,” said Cayet. “Being named preseason defender of the year and now winning this weekly award is something I need to have in order to achieve my long-term goal.”
Sophomore forward Mike Eijgendaal was awarded the AAC Offensive Player of the Week after recording the opening goal in the win against SMU. This is the transfer’s first award as a Temple Owl.
Eijgendaal scored the first goal that SMU had conceded all season, earning his third point in the last three games.
“It’s a nice reward,” said Eijgendaal. “I finally had my breakthrough as a starter so now I can help the team score goals.”
The native of the Netherlands now has two goals and two assists in five games played this season. Eijgendaal leads the team with six points and six shots on target.
The Owls will now travel to Oklahoma to face the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, the only AAC opponent they have yet to play this season.
“Tulsa is playing really well right now,” said Gawronski. “If we can work hard and compete for 90 minutes we will hopefully get a good result.”
Tulsa is coming off of a 2-1 road loss to USF which was their first defeat of the season. The Golden Hurricane sit in second place in the standings with a record of 2-1 and a total of six points.
As of March 1st, Tulsa was ranked as the 25th best team in the country by the NCAA United Soccer Coaches Poll. They have since been taken off of the list after last weekend’s loss.
“If all 11 players are tuned in and on the same page, we can beat every team in this league,” said Eijgendaal.
Temple hasn’t lost to Tulsa since the 2015 season. The Owls were still playing their home games at the Ambler campus in Ambler, PA prior to the construction and completion of the Temple Sports Complex.
Kickoff is at 8 o’clock from The Hurricane Soccer & Track Stadium, the game can be watched on ESPN+.