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Temple has played nearly a half of extra soccer in their past four matches

The Owls earned a draw in their fourth straight overtime game on Sunday, but mistakes in the back and a lack of offense continue to plague the team as they open conference play Friday

Zach Brown is one of two Temple players who have played every minute for the Owls this season
Matt Ralph

College soccer has several flaws, but one that could be done away with a simple rule change would be overtime in regular season matches.

Yes, overtime. As in, that thing that usually only happens in knockout competitions.

Temple has played 40 minutes of overtime over their past four games, beginning with a 1-0 win in the fourth minute of the first overtime period at Rider on September 5 and continuing with overtime losses at home to St. John’s and on the road at Princeton last Wednesday.

Lukas Fernandes’ 87th minute equalizer in Pittsburgh on Sunday sent the Owls game with in-state rivals Duquesne to an eventual 1-1 draw after two 10-minute overtime periods.

The result wasn’t quite what the Owls needed, but surviving a road contest without another unfortunate mistake — as was the case with a poor penalty giveaway that led to the only goal at VCU and a sloppy pass in the back that handed Princeton a win last week — could be considered a positive step heading into Friday’s American Athletic Conference opener at home Friday night.

“It wasn’t the prettiest game we have played, but as I said to the team, we sure have a lot of fight in us,” head coach Brian Rowland told OwlsSports.com. ”We have had to come back in a few games this season, but the guys have never quit. I am happy to have gotten through the last four overtime contests, now with a few days away from game competition to lead us into an important conference opener on Friday.”

The Owls are 2-4-1 on the season, having lost their season opener in Maryland on a 79th minute goal, the aforementioned VCU game on a penalty kick and the two overtime contests to St. John’s and Princeton, but haven’t played like a team struggling through long stretches.

The offense, a glaring question mark heading into the season after losing players who scored 21 of the team’s 26 goals last season, has yet to find the back of the net with any consistency — four goals in seven games simply isn’t cutting it. The goals have been spread out among four players — returners Zach Brown, Lukas Fernandes and Justin Hahn and promising newcomer Jalen Campbell.

The defense, led by first-year French center back Pierre Cayet and junior defensive midfielder Brown, has been solid if unfortunate in key moments. Cayet and Brown are the only players on the squad who have played all 670 minutes while first-year center back Akeem Prawl is third in minutes and junior defender/midfielder Nick Sarver is fourth in minutes. Goalkeeping duties have been split between Michael Samnik and Simon Lefebvre, who each have a clean sheet to their name.

The back five will face perhaps its toughest test yet with UCF, which is 5-1-1 and has 16 goals. Cal Jennings has more than half of those and is second in the country with nine already. The Owls may end up needing their first multi-goal game of the season to just to get a result in front of their home fans under the lights Friday night.

In other local Division 1 men’s soccer action:

-Villanova fell for the second time this season on the road, losing 3-0 at Marquette in their Big East opener. They host a La Salle team today at 4 p.m. hungry for a result after four straight shutout losses to St. Francis Brooklyn, Rider, Lafayette and Robert Morris.

-Drexel bounced back from their first loss of the season — 3-0 at home to James Madison in their conference opener — with a 2-0 win over Bucknell Tuesday night. Mathias Ebbesen’s two goals give him the most (6) for a Dragon since Nathan Page scored nine in 2012.

-St. Joseph’s followed up their first ever win over Navy with a disappointing 2-0 loss at Manhattan on Saturday to fall to 4-3-0. They’ll look to rebound against winless VMI at home tonight at 7 p.m. Ritchie Barry and Joseph Boehm were honored with Philly Soccer Six player of the week and rookie of the week for their play against Navy.

-Penn is another team that’s been no stranger to overtime this season. They played Lehigh to a scoreless draw on Saturday in their fourth overtime contest of the season to improve to 2-1-2. Goalkeeper Scott Forbes earned his third shutout of the season with six saves to earn Philly Soccer Six defender of the week honors. The Quakers only non-overtime contest this season was a 2-0 loss at Milwaukee on September 9th.