Sports

Former leading scorers turn into assist men

Cody Calafiore and Vaughn Spurrier assist other scorers.

Although he has one goal in 11 games, senior midfielder Cody Calafiore said not to mistake his lack of goal scoring for a lack of production.

“Someone that states my production is down simply because my goals are down clearly hasn’t watched many of Temple’s games,” Calafiore said. “I work 150 percent every single time I put on that Temple uniform and I do whatever I can to help my team win.”

Junior midfielder Vaughn Spurrier has zero goals in 11 games, but justified his lack of goal scoring much like Calafiore.

“Production in soccer is a difficult thing to gauge,” Spurrier said. “There are people who are vital to the team’s success who will never have their name on the statistical sheet. I think it would be unfair to say someone’s production is down just because they aren’t scoring goals.”

The pair’s goal tallies are perhaps not where they were expected to be more than halfway into the season. With the loss of Tyler Witmer, who finished second on the team in points and goals in 2011, Calafiore and Spurrier were figured to be heavily relied upon in 2012.

“Coming into the season I had high expectations for myself,” Calafiore said. “I knew I needed to be on the scoring sheet in a lot of games so our team could be successful. So far, coming into the conference games, I haven’t produced as many goals as I had wished to.”

Calafiore led the team with six goals last season and Spurrier was thought to be poised for a scoring outbreak in 2012 after finishing third in points as a sophomore last year.

Statistics aside, Calafiore remains one of the most crucial players on the team. He has consumed the role of being a veteran leader with ease. In Friday’s Atlantic 10 Conference opener against St. Bonaventure, he communicated relentlessly with his teammates, encouraging them and directing them when they weren’t where they needed to be.

And just like any good leader, Calafiore came through in the clutch. With the final seconds ticking off in the overtime period, he gathered a loose ball and sent it into the box, finding junior defenseman Jake Lister for the game-winning goal.

“I don’t worry too much about my goals and assists because I know I play a huge role in my team’s success,” Calafiore said.

Spurrier, despite failing to tally any goals thus far, has erupted with six assists in 2012 after recording only two in 2011. He’s tied for No. 5 in the nation in helpers. Being one of the highest assist men in all of soccer, Spurrier is quick to credit his teammates.

“I’ve gotten more assists this season because of good off-the-ball movement from players around me,” Spurrier said. “We’ve had a more attacking-oriented tactical system this year versus last.”

While Calafiore and Spurrier have been producing in other areas, most of Temple’s goals have been amassed by freshman midfielder Jared Martinelli. Martinelli, the highly coveted prospect from Mechanicsburg, Pa., leads the Owls with six goals. With seven assists, his 19 points is first on the team. Martinelli has the same amount of shots on goal, with 28, as Calafiore does total shots. His 1.73 points per game average ranks second in the nation among all rookies.

“As a team we’ve been very productive offensively,” Martinelli said. “[Calafiore] and [Spurrier] are great guys to play with. Even though they may not be scoring a lot, they are setting other people up and are most important in getting our attack going.”

Neither Calafiore nor Spurrier is surprised at just how important Martinelli has become to the team.

“We all knew the first time we played with him that he was a special player,” Calafiore said. “The only downfall to playing with a freshman that’s having this much success is only getting one season to play with him. He gives us a whole new threat from the outside. It’ll be real exciting to see how he does next year in the Big East.”

“I think coach [David MacWilliams] expected that he needed to find goals somewhere so he recruited wisely, picking up a great attacker,” Spurrier said. “We knew that Martinelli was capable of great things when we signed him.”

After winning their first two conference games this weekend and improving to 5–0 at home and 6–4–1 overall, the Owls’ new offensive pursuit seems to be clicking.

“[Calafiore and Spurrier] are doing other things that are setting up the table for [Martinelli],” MacWilliams said. “They’re players that the other team identifies and watches out for. So then we have 3–4 other players that can finish it and do well. It’s difficult for teams to shut them all down.”

Tyler Sablich can be reached at tyler.sablich@temple.edu or on Twitter @TySablich.

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