The men’s soccer team scored its first goal of the year against Drexel on Saturday, but it wasn’t enough as the team fell, 3-1, during the season’s first home game at Ambler Sports Complex.
The win allowed Drexel (3-0) to repeat as Philadelphia Soccer Six champions, sharing the title with Penn. In 2009, Temple claimed a share of the city title, defeating Soccer Six foes Villanova and Penn during the season.
The Owls last defeated the Dragons, 2-1, five years ago. In the recent matchup, Drexel controlled the game in the second half by scoring two unanswered goals.
Junior forward Evan Bransdorfer scored the Owls’ (0-2-1) first goal of the season, tying the game at 1-1, when he headed a ball, assisted by junior midfielder Tyler Witmer, into the goal. Bransdorfer, who scored two goals last year, had been substituted into the game just moments before making the play.
“Evan definitely has a knack for scoring goals, and he’s going to help us this year,” Temple coach Dave MacWilliams said. “We like to bring Evan off the bench because I think that’s his strength.”
Drexel found the net first in the 18th minute of the first half as the Owls had a defensive breakdown. The Dragons got off a total of 16 shots in the game, while redshirt-senior goalkeeper Bret Mollon made five stops for the Owls.
“Our shape on the field is going to have to improve,” senior midfielder Jared Harris said. “We’re getting countered and our shape is getting all out of line.”
“Granted we had chances, but we didn’t finish them,” Harris added. “Our intensity is going to have to be a lot higher.”
MacWilliams started three freshmen and made substitutions for two other rookies to see playing time.
“I think we have a number of kids who can play obviously,” MacWilliams said. “There is going to be times where we won’t sub as much, but I think we’re getting them game experience right now to see really who stepped up.”
The freshmen accounted for six of the team’s 24 shots, which was a game high for the season. Freshman striker Vaughn Spurrier nearly had a goal when one of his two shots hit the crossbar in the 27th minute.
Witmer led the offense with eight shots to go along with his assist. The Owls spread the ball around throughout the game, as 11 players had at least one shot each, leading to several close-scoring opportunities.
“I don’t think we are going to have anybody who is going to replace JT [Noone],” MacWilliams said. “So I think it’s going to be a situation where we’re going to need a number of players to do it.”
Drexel overpowered the Owls offensively, as the team was able to record two goals in the second half. The Dragons put the game out of reach after they scored their third goal with less than 10 minutes left in the match.
“We didn’t do a very good job of defending today,” MacWilliams said. “They had good goals, no question, but we were soft. We didn’t win any tackles, and it was too easy for them to play against us.”
The rival teams combined for 19 called fouls in the match, including three yellow cards – two of which were committed by Drexel. From the backfield, Harris said the team didn’t play with enough “aggressiveness.”
“[The game] wasn’t nearly as physical as I thought it was going to be,” Harris said. “We didn’t set the tone of physicality from the start, and that really hurt us.”
MacWilliams said defense will be the main aspect for the Owls to focus on in practice before their next game at Hofstra on Sunday.
“You’re never happy when you give up three goals,” MacWilliams said. “So I think it’s something we need to work on.”
The Owls have six more non-conference games before facing an Atlantic Ten Conference opponent when they open against St. Joseph’s at home Oct. 9.
Connor Showalter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.