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Matt Crawford hat trick leads St. Joseph’s to opening night win over Temple

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The senior from Bensalem’s goals and heroics from senior goalkeeper Trevor Nicol helped the Hawks overcome being down a man 55 minutes for a 3-1 win over Temple

Matt Crawford try to beat Temple defender Belal Mohamed in a game on August 25, 2017
Matt Ralph

Backup goalkeepers will tell you they train knowing that any moment they could be called to come into a game.

But when you’re in your fourth year and you’ve never gotten that call it’s understandable that Saint Joe’s keeper Trevor Nicol was a little nervous coming in Friday to make his college debut in the first half against Temple.

“My stomach kind of got all moving like crazy,” Nicol said. “It was an unbelievable opportunity.”

Starting goalkeeper Greg O’Connell was shown a red card in the 35th minute on a challenge in the box and Nicol had to step in right away to defend the penalty kick that was also awarded on the play. Temple senior Joonas Jokinen buried his shot from the spot, but that would be as close as the Owls would get on the night.

Nicol, of Ho Ho Kus, N.J., finished the evening with a pair of saves while the defense led by Ben Zambetti, Eddie McCusker and a pair of freshmen making their debuts - David Grana and Daniel Morales - kept the Owls in check.

St. Joseph’s goalkeeper Trevor Nicol goes up for a ball in the air in a game against Temple on August 25, 2017
Matt Ralph

Senior Matt Crawford did all the damage for the offense, staking the Hawks to an early 2-0 lead with a goal in the 32nd minute set up by freshman Alan Kahlenbeck and a free kick from 25 yards out just 29 seconds later.

He completed the hat trick when he collected a pass from Morales on the counter and ripped one from 25 yards out. It was the first hat trick of his college career and his fourth multi-goal game.

“To be able to step up and do that for the team is great, but it’s a team effort,” Crawford said after the game, deflecting credit to his teammates “to turn that switch and dig in and be able to get a win.”

Head coach Don D’Ambra was also pleased with the overall effort from a team that featured six freshmen making their college debuts.

“I was just really proud of our guys,” D’Ambra said. “I think there was a lot of opportunity to lose your discipline to lose your focus and to let that game get away from us.”

Frenchman Thibault Candia and transfers Divin Fula Luzolo and Khedive McIntosh all saw their first action for the Owls in the losing effort.

"We simply did not finish our chances in the first half which allowed Saint Joseph's to get a great pace going,” Temple head coach David MacWilliams was quoted saying after the match. “We say often that moving forward we have to be able to finish the chances we are given.”

Temple will visit Villanova on Tuesday at 4 p.m. Villanova lost 3-2 to Virginia on Friday so both teams will be looking for their first wins. The Hawks host Hartford at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.