A long NCAA Tournament drought for the Temple men’s soccer team could come to an end if the Owls are able to pull off a pair of upsets in Texas this weekend.
The Owls (9-7-1) last made it to college soccer’s Big Dance in 1985 when the team finished the season with a 14-1-2 record.
To put themselves in position for a return trip, the Owls will need to take down American Athletic regular season champions Southern Methodist.
It won’t be an easy task.
SMU (13-2-1) is ranked 18th in the country in RPI (Temple is 90th) and their defense hasn’t conceded a goal in six straight games since Temple defender Divin Fula Luzolo scored in the 48th minute of Temple’s 2-1 loss to SMU at home on October 7. The Mustangs last loss was on the road to Tulsa on September 24 and their only other loss was on the road to defending national champions Stanford in early September.
The Owls, meanwhile, are one win away from reaching double digits in wins for the third straight season after winning four of their last five games. They booked the last spot in the American Athletic semifinals with a 1-0 win at home over South Florida last Saturday.
Senior Joonas Jokinen scored the game’s only goal off a Fula Luzolo corner kick on Senior Night against South Florida to extend his college career.
Jokinen’s four goals are third on the team behind two newcomers who have carried the offense in sophomore Thibault Candia (6 goals, 1 assist) and freshman Alan Camacho Soto (5 goals, 1 assist). The attacking duo both received all-conference honors along with Fula Luzolo, who was named to the first team while Camacho Soto and Cambia were named to the second team all-conference and Camacho Soto to the all-rookie team earlier this week. Icelandic defender Darri Sigthorsson also made the all-rookie team.
Tonight’s game will be broadcast live on YouTube at 8 p.m. The winner will meet the winner of UConn and UCF on Sunday at 2 p.m.