A pretty 67th minute chip from Temple forward Lukas Fernandes was the difference in a Philly Soccer Six derby match played Friday night at the Temple Sports Complex.
Fernandes, a rising junior, received a pass from Alan Camacho Soto just inside the 18 and skillfully lofted a left-footed shot into the back of the net for the lone goal of the match, which was originally scheduled to be played at Penn Park on Saturday but was moved out of concern for the weather forecast.
“It was beautiful,” senior captain Herman Doerner said of the goal. “That’s why we have him. He’s a great player. He has the ability to score goals like that because he’s a technical guy. He’s been really improving over the spring.”
Fernandes has only one career goal through two seasons, but is also just one of five players returning this fall who scored last season. His combination play with Soto, who was second on the team last season with five goals as a freshman, will be key for the Owls attack under new head coach Brian Rowland.
Facing a familiar opponent on Friday night — a team that beat them 3-1 in the season opener last fall — the play of the midfield on both sides of the field was key. Building from the back from rising senior center back Nick Sarver, through the midfield of Doerner, a rising senior and rising junior Zach Brown forward to Matt Trepanier, who had a lot of time on the ball, the Owls were able to control tempo and possession throughout.
Clear goal-scoring chances, however, were in short supply as St. Joe’s rising senior center back Eddie McCusker and Rutgers transfer Mike Fornaro were able to limit the chances in the final third.
“It’s something to build on,” Saint Joe’s head coach Don D’Ambra said. “We weren't real happy with it but we were happy with the defensive effort.”
Playing just their second game of the spring after losing 3-0 to LIU Brooklyn, a Hawks team consisting mostly of freshman and sophomores were limited to just a few clear chances in the final third.
Their best chance came through rising sophomore Alvin Dahn, a speedy winger who, along with classmate Ritchie Barry, was able to pressure the Owls back line off the counter attack a few times and had a shot on frame that Owls goalkeeper Michael Samnik did well to parry away.
The 1-0 win was the first of the spring for the Owls after opening with a 3-3 draw at Rutgers and losing 5-0 to Lehigh and 1-0 to George Mason both on the road. They host La Salle for their final game of the spring on Sunday at 1 p.m.
“I thought we had really good energy,” said Rowland, who coached his first game at home and his first against a Philly opponent. “We’ve been working all spring on trying to shape an identity of how we want to play. Today was probably our biggest complete game. I thought we did things well in the attacking side of things we’ve been working on and defensively I thought we were more connected.”
Doerner, who was one of only four seniors in the starting lineup (forward Jordan Wix-Rauch, right back Belal Mohamed and left back Jamie Pick were the others), said he was happy to avenge last season’s loss to rival, something the players talked about in the huddle before the game started.
“We kept the ball really well, we had a couple turnovers that weren’t necessary and a little risk taking in the back but I think overall we played really well,” he said. “The win is definitely deserved.”