Senior forward J.T. Noone recorded his 21st assist in the Owls’ only win this weekend versus Albany.
After the men’s soccer team’s promising 2-0-1 start, the Owls entered a rough stretch of games after a 0-0 tie to Lafayette. Temple would not score a single goal during a two-game stint in Norfolk, Va., where it would lose, 2-0, to William and Mary and 4-0 to Old Dominion. The Owls then came home to break their goalless streak with two goals from sophomore Tyler Witmer, but the team still lost their third straight game, 3-2, to Navy.
“Obviously, I thought we played much better at Navy, but we just had a few mental lapses that cost us the game, a game we should have won,” coach David MacWilliams said.
One reason the team struggled was its tendency to drop back in its own end, thus making it difficult to move up the field.
“It wasn’t by design that we were dropping back for whatever reason, things kept kind of collapsing in the back, and we kept having a long way to go,” MacWilliams said. “For whatever reason in Virginia, we were turning the ball over in our own end.”
Another issue has been other teams focusing on senior forward J.T. Noone as they try to limit his ability to create scoring chances. In Virginia, Noone was moved back from the forward spot to help out defensively, which put him farther away from the net. The team still works the ball through him even as he receives extra attention from opponents.
“A lot of teams put a mark on me and have guys follow me around on the field,” Noone said. “You just have to be smart with the way you’re playing and try to take your chances as they come. I’m learning to deal with it, as long as we’re successful, that’s the only thing that matters to me.”
To turn their fortunes around, MacWilliams had the Owls place an emphasis on pressing higher up the field. Then, if they won possession of the ball, they would not have to travel very far to score. This system started during the Navy game on Saturday, and on Sunday, Temple snapped its four-game losing streak with a 2-0 win over Albany up at Ambler.
“This is definitely as momentum builder,” MacWilliams said. “I still think we are as confident as we were last year, and I think that only counts for winning games and keeping the other team off the board.”
“We started believing in each other and realized it was only a couple of games, Noone added. “It is a long season, and we can turn this around.”
Witmer scored the first goal with an assist from Noone in the 37-minute mark, and senior Mike Puppolo had the game-winning goal in the 87-minute mark. Noone’s assist makes him Temple’s all-time leader with 21, and the season isn’t over yet.
“I finally got it out of the way and can now concentrate on the rest of the season,” Noone said. “It’s something I’ve been trying to accomplish for the past couple weeks now. I’m very proud of accomplishing it.”
On Wednesday, the team takes on city-rival Penn at Ambler and then has another home game on Saturday against Hartford.
“We just need to win a few games and get some confidence,” MacWilliams said.
Brian Dzenis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.