Philadelphia native Dave MacWilliams took over a depleted men’s soccer team that was in the midst of a massive rebuilding phase in 2000. Since then, he has played an intricate role in the program’s gradual transition to the Big East Conference.
MacWilliams, Temple’s fourth-longest active tenured coach, became the Owls head coach after being relieved of that same position with the Philadelphia KiXX. He played high school soccer at Frankford High School, was an All-American at Philadelphia University and played 10 years of professional soccer. MacWilliams was also a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic soccer team.
In their last season in the Atlantic 10 Conference, the Owls are 7–5–2 overall and 3–1–1 in conference play under MacWilliams. He has compiled an overall record of 93–116–23 throughout his 13-year tenure as Temple’s head coach. MacWilliams, who said he believes the A-10 conference is underrated in terms of men’s soccer, said he is looking forward to the challenge of playing in a powerhouse conference such as the Big East.
The Temple News: What drew you to this program 13 years ago?
Dave MacWilliams: I think [Temple] has a history. Temple was one of the schools I was looking at coming out of high school. I wanted to stay local. At this stage, it was great because it was my hometown. I coached professionally here and I thought it would be great to coach collegiately here also.
TTN: At what point did you know you wanted to coach soccer?
DM: At a very young age, well young compared to what I am now. When I was playing pro I wanted to keep soccer as my profession. So not only playing professionally but coaching as well.
TTN: Can you describe your playing days? What was it like to travel and to showcase your talents on a professional level?
DM: It was a great experience. It’s something that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life, not only playing professionally but playing for my country. It’s one of the greatest experiences that you could have.
TTN: After leading the Owls to back-to-back 10-plus win seasons back in 2003-04, did you think that you were going to be here for the long haul?
DM: You never know what’s going to happen. You try and take one day at a time in order to try and improve on some things. I know we had some tough years but I think the program is back on track and that we’re heading in the right direction. We’re very competitive and looking for even bigger and better things.
TTN: As a Division I soccer coach, what’s the most challenging aspect of this job?
DM: The recruiting aspect is probably the biggest challenge, and I think that goes for any collegiate sport. Recruiting and finding your niche, I think, is the toughest part of the job.
TTN: What has been the most rewarding part of your Temple career?
DM: The fact that I can affect or mold the way these kids play has been the greatest part. That also goes for some of their lifestyles. Whether it’s on the field or off the field I can have an effect. The toughest part is you lose those kids every four years. It’s tough because you have some great kids that come through the program and in four or five years you have a new crop of kids. It’s always changed so we’re always rebuilding and tweaking all the time.
TTN: Do you think [midfielder] Jared Martinelli is the most talented freshman you’ve ever coached?
DM: Probably. [Tony] Donatelli [2002-05] was good, but he didn’t have the stats that Martinelli does.
TTN: Considering the defense has been solid all season, is defense something you’ve always prided yourself on as a soccer coach?
DM: The old cliche is “defense wins championships.” I think that’s where you have to build it. You have to make sure you’re sound in the back. When it comes down to close games, if you can’t keep the ball out of the net it’s going to kill you. Defense is one of the many things we pride ourselves on.
TTN: What does the transition to the Big East mean to you, considering that you’ve been here for so long?
DM: I’m really looking forward to it because I’ve always wanted to coach at the highest levels. And that’s no disrespect to the Atlantic 10 because I think that is a very good conference. [The A-10] is not perceived to be that way outside of the conference, but it truly is. I think the Big East is the No. 1 or 2 conference in men’s soccer, so it’s definitely going to be a challenge for us.
TTN: Can Temple be competitive in the Big East?
DM: Recruiting is going to be a big key. We have a good nucleus here, but I think we need to increase our depth so if we have injuries we can sustain them. I think the key is having a lot more depth than what we have right now.
TTN: What has the progression of Temple soccer been like from the time you took over until now?
DM: It’s been steady. We’ve had a couple bumps in the road but right now we’re poised to be consistent and stay competitive. The bar has been raised now so we have to get better as far as recruiting, as far as facilities, and everything else. We’re going to be playing some of the highest level of competition throughout the country.
Tyler Sablich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TySablich.