It’s that time of year again. Long move-in days, seeing friends you haven’t seen all summer, meeting new and exciting people, and the start of fall sports at Temple University.
Temple’s campus is buzzing with new and returning students, along with the aspirations of the football, field hockey, women and men’s soccer and women’s volleyball teams. All are looking to give Temple students something to talk about throughout the first semester of the year.
Temple football is looking to improve on back-to-back 4-7 seasons under fifth-year head coach Bobby Wallace. The Owls plan to use a new look offense and a tenacious defense that was ranked 19th in the nation to improve upon last season. This a team is returning 17 starters, looking for improvement on the offense side with the new spread formation, no-huddle offense under first-year offensive coordinator David Brock.
Brock’s high-flying scheme should receive a boost from senior running back Tarnardo Sharps. He and second-team All-Big East wide receiver Sean Dillard will be looked upon to get this team in the end zone against formidable foes like Oregon State and defending national champion Miami.
Sitting at the top of the depth chart at quarterback is second year man Mike McGann, who started seven games for the Owls last season. Right on his tail is senior Mike Frost. As of now, it appears to be McGann’s job to lose.
An aggressive defense is what the Owls have shown the last couple of seasons under coordinator Raymond Monica. His defense has steadily gotten better each season, as evidenced by last year’s No. 19 ranking. They do have some major holes to fill on defensive line after losing defensive lineman Raheem Brock and defensive back Chonn Lacey to the NFL.
The Owls will return the unanimous all-Big East tackle turned defensive end Dan Klecko. A lot of the attention will be put on the senior, who looks to improve upon his impressive numbers last season that included 19.5 tackles for a loss, and 27 quarterback hurries.
The Owls must survive a difficult schedule that includes non-conference games against Oregon State, South Carolina, and up-start Cincinnati. The always grueling Big East schedule includes Miami, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh and Boston College.
Football is not the only team with a tough schedule.
Temple’s field hockey team competed with No. 1 North Carolina last season on its way to an 8-11 overall, 2-4 Atlantic 10 Conference record. The team also faced the 13th, 15th and 20th-ranked teams in the country last season.
This year’s squad looks to move up in the A-10, a conference dominated by UMass the last couple of seasons. Coach Lauren Fuchs will rely upon the senior leadership of Virginia Gonzalez, who led the team last season with 16 points.
Even with the tough schedule ahead, the team looks to improve both overall and within the conference.
Women’s soccer has brought in some top talent that could help them make strides this season. Seamus Williams is back for his ninth season as head coach has announced already that the new players will take a key role in this team immediately.
Making noise already is freshman defender Patricia “Trish” Dalton, an Abington High School star who was named to the A-10 pre-season All-Rookie Team. She was selected for this onor by all the coaches around the league.
Dalton’s prior accomplishments before Temple include a selection to play for the 2001-2002 National Championship Under-17 Team. The recruiting class coming onto the squad not only includes high school stars, but identical twins. They are Samantha and Stephanie Vietry defenders, from Cranston (RI) High West.
The team has some veteran leadership in junior caption and defender Stephanie Godsell. Godsell played in 17 games last season for the Owls, guiding them to an overall record of 6-11-1 with a 1-9-1 mark in the conference. They ended the season on an eight-game losing streak.
Senior Jeanette Hibbs, who compiled 18 points including seven goals and three game winners, led the team in scoring last season. Hibbs and senior forward Johanna Yemm will look to take on most of the scoring for this team. To stop the other teams from scoring, the Owls have sophomore goalkeeper Jackie Mauro.
Mauro started 15 games for the Owls and saw action in at least 17 games. She posted 86 saves and accumulated a 1.52 goal against average, and looks to improve on those numbers with a more solid defense in front of her.
The Owls start their season in Vermont at the Vermont Tournament August 31through September 1 and play their first 10 games on the road. They finally return to the home crowd on October 4 at 4:00 PM.
Men’s soccer has promising young talent of its own. This season they bring back 2001 Co-Freshman of the Year Steven Wacker. The Owls did, however, had a disappointing year, going 4-13-1, 3-8 A-10. With Wacker looking to improve on his rookie year minus the sophomore jinx, third-year head coach David MacWilliams will do all in his power to improve on last season’s record. They will have to do it without some key players from last year’s squad, and against some tough Atlantic 10 opponents.
The team opens up their fall schedule in the James Madison Comfort Inn invitational, and their first home game is September 10 versus Villanova at 3:30 PM.
Volleyball has been an interesting sport for Temple. In the previous three out of four years the team has won Atlantic 10 championships, including appearances in the NCAA’s. They also did the unthinkable in 1997, going undefeated with a perfect 20-0 record. This has all been done under the great coaching of headman Bob Bertucci. Bertucci, going into his eight year of service, has an amazing record of 159-63. Last years 22-10 overall record with a 10-6 Atlantic-10 fourth place finish can almost be looked at as disappointing. Although the team fought hard to make it back to the championship game, they fell up short on a four-peat, and lost to Xavier three games to zero.
Returning for the Owls is junior standout outside hitter Yamit Haba. The Israeli native has started since her freshman year and has improved every year. Haba led the team in kills last season with 475, giving her an average of 4.25 kills a match. Also returning for the Owls is senior setter Solana Lee, who led the team in three categories including number of attacks. The Owls start off the year in the West Virginia Tournament before hosting the annual Temple Invitational September 7 and 8 in McGonigle Hall.
Matt Sitkoff can be reached at email@example.com