First-year head coach uses extra practice time to develop players

Temple women’s soccer was supposed to play an eight match conference only schedule this fall.

The Temple Owls women's soccer team practices at the Temple Sports Complex on Aug. 26. | JEREMY ELVAS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

During preseason camp over the summer, Temple University’s head women’s soccer coach Nick Bochette told his team he didn’t know what to expect on a day-to-day basis, he said.

“All we can do is show up today and do the work and get better,” Bochette added.

Now, with their season postponed to the spring, the team is practicing for a season they hope will earn them a spot in the NCAA tournament, Bochette said.

The NCAA announced on Aug. 13 there wouldn’t be any national championships held this fall, according to a release. 

On Aug. 25, the American Athletic Conference announced it was postponing all soccer and volleyball competition to Spring 2021 to align with the NCAA Championships schedule, The Temple News reported. 

The American had previously announced on Aug. 5 women’s soccer would play an eight-match single-round-robin schedule of conference-only games, with the ability to schedule mid-week non-conference matches on or after Sept. 6, The Temple News reported

“Obviously in our season we have goals, and one of the most default goals we’ll always have is the NCAA Tournament,” Bochette said. “So when that got pushed to the spring, I think it did reframe things a lot for us. And now we get to look at the fall as a time for development.” 

The teams had extended time off since their Spring 2020 season was also canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been more than 10 months since their last game on Oct. 31, a 1-1 double-overtime draw versus Connecticut, which knocked them out of contention for the conference tournament. 

The pandemic made it difficult for the team to get to know Bochette, who was hired to replace Seamus O’Connor in January, said senior midfielder and captain Julia Dolan.

“I met Nick for probably a month, and then we went on Zoom. So we don’t really know our coaching staff that well both on-the-field and off-the-field,” Dolan added. “We have injuries that people are coming back from and having all this time in the fall, and then a preseason in the spring is going to allow us to build as a team and connect with the coaches.”

The NCAA normally gives teams a 14 to 16 day preseason before commencing play. Even in a normal year that time frame doesn’t give the team enough time to prepare, Bochette said.  

“The calendar is going to be shifted, but as far as our coaching staff with this roster, we’re very much a new program,” Bochette added. “There’s a whole lot of trust to be built up with systems with certain schemes, certain tactics and things like that.”

Bochette made it obvious if any player wasn’t comfortable with playing their decision to opt-out would be supported, he said.

The protocols Temple has taken throughout the preseason “mitigates risk,” but they don’t “eliminate risk,” Bochette added.  

It was difficult for some players to focus on soccer right upon arriving to campus, but knowing there would be at least a spring season helped, Dolan said. 

“Now that we’re a month into it and then hearing the news two days ago that our season’s pushed to the spring was kind of a letdown,” Dolan added. “But,we came to practice the next day. We worked hard and like Nick said, we’re just going to keep showing up and doing the work.”

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