‘A steady rock’: Temple defender brings physicality to backline

Women’s soccer freshman defender Róisín McGovern scored her first goal of the season on Feb. 28 against East Carolina.

Freshman defender Roisin McGovern passes the ball during the Owls' match against the University of Central Florida at the Temple Sports Complex on Feb. 14. | NICK DAVIS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Growing up in Dublin, Ireland, freshman defender Róisín McGovern spent her free time playing soccer with boys who lived on her block. At eight years old, she played on an all-boys team, Wayside Celtic FC, which helped her develop a highly physical style of play.

Now, McGovern is a vital physical presence to the Owls’ (3-2-1, 1-2-1 The American Athletic Conference) defense keeping opponents out of the penalty box and holding the defensive line when Temple’s other defenders join the offensive attack.    

McGovern, who stands at 6 feet, 1 inch tall, is one of Temple’s more physical players willing to sit back and defend the box by separating opposing players and posting up inside the other team’s box on offense. 

“She brings an element to our back four that we don’t have with all of our backs,” said junior goalkeeper Kamryn Stablein. “[Senior defender Marissa DiGenova] likes to get high and into the box and get crosses in. [Freshman defender Brooke Kane] likes to play a little bit higher. [McGovern] is like a steady rock back there. She keeps everybody in line and makes sure that we’re still doing the job of defending.”

Playing center back, McGovern is surrounded by upperclassmen like Dupree, DiGenova, Stablein and senior midfielder Julia Dolan. Despite being a freshman, she earned a starting spot.

“They’re all quite influential, but definitely my partnership with [DiGenova] on the right, and my center-back partnership with [senior defender Djavon Dupree] and the center-mid partnership with [Dolan] has been really influential,” McGovern said. 

McGovern scored her first goal against East Carolina on Feb. 28 and saved a last-second goal to preserve Temple’s win over NJIT on March 7, cementing her as someone the Owls will rely on this season for defensive and offensive production. 

McGovern is tied for the team lead in minutes played and scored one goal while recording three shots this season. 

McGovern almost didn’t commit to Temple and was close to committing to Quinnipiac University before Temple reached out to her, McGovern said. 

“[Temple’s coaching staff] actually contacted me in February [2020] and I was close to making my decision,” McGovern said. “So within like, two or three weeks of being contacted I came on a visit just before COVID and then made up my mind like, probably a week after I came home.”

Owls assistant coach Claire Scanlan, who is also from Dublin, found out about McGovern through a conversation with another coach and was impressed with McGovern’s playing style right away. 

“She’s really strong in the air, and then her passing is very good with both feet,” Scanlan said. “She can play on the left or right side, and her passing range is excellent.” 

McGovern was recruited by the DLR Waves club team in 2017 and was later called up to play with the Ireland under-17 National Team, where she competed in the UEFA Championship Tournament. 

She captained the Ireland under-19 National Team in October 2020 when they played in the European Championships and made it to the elite stage of the tournament, but the rest of the tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Scanlan and McGovern connected with each other right away by talking about music or singing a song during training, Scanlan added.

“She’s been a great addition to the program,” Scanlan said. “We’re really happy that she’s here and we’re looking forward to building and working on improving the program as we go.” 

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