Going into Saturday night, Temple men’s soccer had never beaten a top five team.
That changed against No. 2-ranked SMU in a wild game that saw three red cards, a penalty and the Owls walking off the field with a skip in their step and a 2-0 win.
“The guys were focused and ready to go and put in maybe our most complete performance,” head coach Brian Rowland was quoted saying after the match. “From that standpoint I didn’t feel like beating the number two team in the country was something we couldn’t accomplish.
The Owls were on a three-game losing streak after beating South Florida on the road to start the campaign, in danger of falling out of contention for postseason American Athletic play. But an early goal from Mike Eijgendaal in the 11th minute — the first conceded by the Mustangs in 2021 — put the Owls on the front foot after getting numbers in the box. Santiago Majewski recorded the assist on the play.
SMU put the ball in the back of the net a couple minutes later off a corner kick when the ball was kicked out of Eoin Gawronski’s hands and but a foul was whistled. Gawronski, a former FC Delco and Union Academy keeper from Limerick, recorded six saves to record a clean sheet in his first career start.
After trading stretches of possession, Temple doubled the lead in the 63rd minute on a Pierre Cayet penalty after SMU found themselves in double jeopardy when Sean Karani was taken down from behind in the box and Thomas Haney was sent off with a second yellow.
Temple had a couple more chances to stretch the lead but held strong to pick up the team’s first clean sheet of 2021 against an SMU team that had outscored opponents 14-0 in their first three matches.
Two more red cards were shown late in the match with Temple defender Brandon Johnson and forward Papa Ndoye both seeing red. Temple was able to see off the rest of the match 10v9 while SMU’s bench was also carded. Nine total cards were shown on the night — two reds and three yellows to SMU; three yellows and a red to Temple.
“We’ve been on the wrong side of some results, so it was good to put a full 90 together and show what we’re capable of,” Rowland said.