A packed house just waiting to explode never got its chance on opening night of the men’s college soccer season Thursday as Temple was shut out by Rutgers.
Kicking off the second season under new head coach Brian Rowland, the Owls again saw a makeover with 17 new faces joining the squad in the offseason. Carrying some momentum into the year from a strong spring, the final ball just wasn’t there on Thursday against a Rutgers team that bunkered in and got the game’s only goal in the second half on a penalty kick.
Rowland was unhappy with the result, but stayed positive about the team’s outlook for the season ahead following the match.
“I think the level of player, the style of play in the group is all really really positive,” Rowland said. “I hope fans enjoy watching us play. I think we’re playing the right style and we’re confident we’ll get the results.”
The Owls came out strong controlling possession and forcing the Scarlet Knights — playing their first regular season game under new head coach Jim McElderry — into deep positions in their own third. Despite all the possession, Temple wasn’t able to produce any clear chances in the first half and the timing of runs wasn’t quite there with five offsides being whistled in the opening 45 minutes.
The second half was better in that regard as the Owls attack forced Rutgers goalkeeper Oren Asher into all five of his saves down on the other goal and Temple created four of their five corners on the night.
Rutgers took the lead in the 51st minute on a penalty kick after Chris Tiao was tripped up just inside the box. Freshman Jorgen Wisth Lie was able to get Owls keeper Simon Lefebvre going the wrong way to convert the game’s only goal.
Playing with the lead, McElderry turned to his bench to close down the game, subbing on Philadelphia Union Academy grad Brandon Golden in the 72nd minute and rotating other players to keep the team fresh. Jackson Temple, a fellow Union Academy grad who is a 17-year-old freshman, played all 90 minutes of the match rotating from the middle to out wide and sat in as an extra holding midfielder in the closing minutes.
“I thought it was a pretty typical, tight college soccer game at the beginning of the year in terms of both teams trying to figure how they want to play and what roles are on the teams,” McElderry said in a news release. “We had a few guys who didn’t play tonight that could still play big roles on the team. I’m really happy with the commitment level our guys have shown all throughout preseason and the way they battled and did not concede a goal against a good Temple team.”
Announced attendance for the game at Temple Sports Complex was 805.
“I thought the atmosphere was awesome, fans came out,” Rowland said. “Certainly more goals would have been exciting for everybody but it’s an exciting group. I think we’ve put together a team that can be entertaining in all aspects of the game.”
Temple will hit the road to play at Georgetown on Monday while Rutgers has another date in the city against Drexel at 6 p.m. on Labor Day. The Owls will visit another Big East foe in Philly Soccer Six rival on September 7 before returning home to play Lafayette on September 13.