The Owls were looking to earn back-to-back victories for the first time since the spring 2021 season but instead ended in a frustrating 2-2 tie against the NJIT Highlanders on Saturday at the Temple Sports Complex. These spring games are all exhibition games to help get the team ready for the official fall season.
After a rainy start, junior midfielder Fabian Grant opened up the score at the six-minute mark to give the Owls a 1-0 advantage. Following the first goal, the Owls were unable to put the game away as they saw NJIT tightened up its defense, growing more aggressive by the minute resulting in a few yellow cards.
In just his third game back from his foot injury that kept him out for most of the fall, goalie Eoin Gawronski was unable to make it three scoreless games in a row as NJIT tied it up early in the second half. “I don’t think he's at fault for any of the goals. He really had a pretty quiet day, ultimately,” said head coach Brian Rowland.
Another player who has stepped up in the eyes of Rowland is freshman forward Xavier Rimpel, creating an attack that resulted in a few shots down the stretch. “He's a guy that came from minute one when we were out here in January in the freezing cold. He's come out working really hard. He really wants to put a stamp on the team,” an excited Rowland said.
NJIT took the lead with 15 minutes to go as it capitalized on the holes in the Temple defense. However, just four minutes later freshman defender Luka Kozomara tied the game with his first goal in an Owls uniform with just over ten minutes left. Neither team got good looks in the final minutes of play ending in a 2-2 draw.
Sophomore forward Mike Eijgendaal, who scored the lone goal in the Owls 1-0 victory over Loyola Maryland on March 20th, was unable to add to his goal tally. “He'll probably be upset that maybe those didn't go in, but some days you don't have it. And other days, you know, he'll score those 10 times over,” an optimistic Rowland explained.
The Owls were more aggressive offensively down the stretch but Rowland was disappointed in the missed opportunities as the Owls created 11 shots to the Highlanders nine. The Owls also had nine corners on the day. However, Rowland was pleased with the fight and spirit his players had as they continue to learn how to put these kinds of games away.
“I think we faded a little bit in the second half. I think there are some positives, even in the end obviously you're disappointed we gave up the lead, but at least we were able to come back and tie it up,” Rowland said.
The Owls travel to New Jersey to take on Rider, Saturday, April 2 at noon.