The Owls had a hard-fought victory over St. John's Wednesday afternoon at the TU Pavillon, remaining undefeated there for the ninth straight season. However, that record was under serious pressure against a talented Red Storm (14-4) that was fresh off a victory against Marquette.
St. Johns was looking to replicate its performance from a year ago having taken down the Owls in New York. Leo Raquin and Henrique Petiz from the number one position lost their match 6-3 to the Japanese/British pairing. However, the Owls clinched the doubles point thanks to wins from Marin Delmas/Louis Gorregues (6-4) and Gregoire Barety/Hussein El Tawil (6-4) from the two and three positions.
Every Owl did double duty lining up for singles action just minutes later. Delmas defeated his opponent from the number one position with minimal fuss 6-2, 6-2 improving his record to 12-4 on the season. Raquin from the four spot gave the Owls a 3-0 lead with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Puerto Rico’s Ignacio Garcia avenging his defeat from a year ago.
The Owls looked well on their way to yet another straightforward win in front of the home crowd, that included the likes of Athletic Director Arthur Johnson watching from the sidelines. “What a great day for tennis, tennis is meant to be played outside,” Johnson said, musing over the performance and the weather.
However, the momentum shifted with things starting to unravel for the Owls freshmen Henrique Petiz from Portugal and El Tawil from Egypt, the latest editions to the Owls lineup. Petiz was playing boldly from the number three position but began cramping midway through the third set. Petiz fought on ripping winners from the forehand wing but ultimately lost 6-1, 2-6, 4-6 against Yaron Hubberman from Israel.
Meanwhile, on court 5, it was a similar fate for El Tawil who was up 7-5, 3-2 before falling in three sets 7-5, 6-7, 2-6, with cramps settling in for the Egyptian freshman. All of a sudden the Owls' lead had dwindled to 3-2 and with Gregoire Barety down a set and a break against his Japanese opponent, all eyes were on Owls Louis Gorregues and his opponent, Carl Gustavsson from Sweden, who were locked in a third set battle. Gorregues had an opportunity to serve out the match at 5-4 in the third before tightening up with his opponent's visibility cramping between points. Gorregues broke back and sealed the victory for the Owls 5-7, 7-5, 7-5.
“One of the best wins of my career. I stayed locked in focused on my game,” an elated Gorregues said following the victory.
“The difference was not how hard you hit but how smart you play. A moment Louis will remember the rest of his life, ” Coach Steve Mauro said.
The Owls will travel to Tulsa to play their last match of the season before the American Athletic Conference tournament next week.
Coming off the worst loss of the season to Syracuse, the Temple Owls managed to dismantle one of the top teams in the American Conference in Vanderbilt by a final score of 20-9.
It’s been a long road for junior Riley McGowan, after missing all of last season due to injury. But on Saturday, she had her best game of her collegiate career, scoring a career-high seven goals in the win.
“I think everyone was just working together on the defensive end which then fed into the offensive end,” said McGowan. “The chemistry was just really strong between everyone. Work together to get everyone open, and I just happen to be open.”
Last week’s loss to Syracuse was undoubtedly the worst loss of the season, as the Owls surrendered a season-high 22 goals in a 22-7 blowout loss. That resulted in the added preparation that led up to this game and ultimately led them to Temple’s best win of the season.
“I think playing Syracuse was a great opportunity, and we got to learn a lot. It was a fast game. We kinda started over on Monday and prepared for Vanderbilt. And we took the past 5-6 days to work on our offense, work on our defense, and put it all together out on the field today,” McGowan said.
Only four games are remaining on the Owls' schedule, and all of their upcoming opponents are in-conference. Those teams include Cincinnati, East Carolina, Florida, and Old Dominion. This final stretch will likely determine the team’s entire outlook on their season.
“This is so much fun. This time of year is so much fun,” said Coach Bennie Rosen when asked about this final stretch. “We’ve been on this non-conference journey, and now it begins. To be able to start out with this win against Vanderbilt is huge.”
Outside of McGowan, graduate student Quinn Nicolai scored four goals, and now leads the team with 37 goals on the year.
Graduate student goalkeeper Annie Caroll had a huge bounce-back game, as she had six saves in net.
The Owls' next game isn’t until next Saturday when they play the Cincinnati Bearcats at Howarth Field. The Bearcats are on a two-game win streak, and they have an overall record of 6-6, while not playing any conference opponents as of yet.