It took only 43 seconds for Temple to put an end to more than 300 minutes of offensive futility on Tuesday afternoon as Thibault Candia opened his collegiate scoring account on the first play of the game and the Owls never really looked back in a 4-1 win over Duquesne.
Candia, a newcomer from France, had shown flashes of skill in his previous six starts for the Owls but it took a long pass from fellow newcomer Divin Fula Luzolo from the right flank and a chip over the goalkeeper he then had to head home to finally score his first collegiate goal.
“When I got that first goal of the game, my first career goal, it gave us a lot of confidence and made us more comfortable,” Candia said after the game.
The Owls only had three goals through their first six matches and only one of those from open play.
But Candia’s goal - the first for the team since a 1-1 draw against Delaware on August 31 - opened the floodgates as Candia doubled the lead in the 51st minute on a bullet from 25 yards out and Zach Brown headed home a Jordan Wix Rauch line drive in the 77th minute.
After Zach Hall pulled back a goal in the 80th minute with his third of the year for the visitors, Lukas Fernandes got in on the action with a deflected strike off a left-footed cross by freshman Adrian Marmol.
“We needed those goals,” head coach David MacWilliams said after the match. “We were pressing, we were a little bit tight. Hopefully going into Saturday’s game (at home against UConn) this will give us a little more confidence.”
With senior leader Joonas Jokinen out of the lineup, MacWilliams went with a younger lineup, employing Candia with freshman Alan Camacho up top, who made just his second appearance and first start of the year. Camacho’s contributions didn’t show up in the box score, but gave the Duquesne defense fits on the attack with his strength holding the ball up and setting up teammates.
Fulo Luzolo, a senior transfer from Hawaii Pacific, also put in a strong performance on the right flank while freshman Darri Sigthorrsson and fifth-year senior leader Mark Grasela limited chances for the visitors. Alex Cagle was forced to make only one save on the day.
With the win, Temple improved to 2-4-1 heading into the start of American Athletic Conference play.
“We have a clean slate in the conference in terms of records so I am looking forward to what we can do over the next few weeks,” MacWilliams said.
In between games with UConn at home and Memphis on the road, the Owls will look to make it three straight wins against in-state rival Penn State next Wednesday evening in the first meeting between the two teams at Temple Sports Complex.