This fall season is one the men’s soccer team would like to forget.
It ended with a 5-0 blanking to top-seeded Connecticut in an American Athletic Conference tournament quarterfinal Saturday night.
Coach David MacWilliams said he was pleased with the performance in the first half even though his squad trailed, 2-0.
“I thought that we played well in the first half,” MacWilliams said. “We outshot them until [Connecticut] scored its second goal. … They have a talented team with a lot of talented players. You can’t make mistakes on a team like that. The second goal at the end of the first half killed us.
That goal, scored by Connecticut forward Cyle Larin in the 39th minute, was one of a few goals scored for Connecticut that resulted from defensive miscues by the Owls.
Throughout the course of the contest, defensive errors combined with mental lapses to allow Connecticut easy opportunities to score.
“Mental mistakes,” MacWilliams said of his team’s defensive performance. “The first goal, a guy goes by three of our defenders, we don’t get a tackle in and he scores.
“The second goal, we challenged the [Connecticut] player in, but there was no urgency,” MacWilliams added. “They play a quick ball and the guy’s wide open back post, and that was the game for me.”
MacWilliams’ team has struggled defensively this season by giving up 32 goals, an average of 1.88 goals per game, the worst in the American Athletic Conference. The team’s scoring also ranked last in The American, as the Owls netted 13 goals for an average of 0.76 per contest.
Last fall, the Owls had a successful season finishing the regular season with a 10-3-4 record, but this season told a different story, as Temple finished at 2-13-2 with The American’s worst conference record of 1-6-1.
This rough season comes at the hands of many key players lost from last fall’s winning season.
“We lost a lot of key players,” MacWilliams said. “We played a tough schedule and with that we never got any momentum. It hurts our confidence and hurt us as a young team, we couldn’t find a way out of the hole.”
This loss in a way according to MacWilliams sums up the tough season they have endured.
“We made too many mistakes in critical times,” MacWilliams said. “We only scored 13 goals and that’s the biggest thing.”
For the second straight season the Owls were bounced out of the first round of The American Conference Championship, as South Florida knocked off Temple last season.
Temple’s two-win season was the worst win total since a 2006 season in which its record was 2-14-1.
Even though this season for the most part was a lost one, MacWilliams will only lose five seniors and return a team filled with underclassmen. This tough season is something his team next year can look at and learn from, he said.
“We will take this as a learning experience,” MacWilliams said. “We have to find a way to score goals. Next year we will be a little bit older, but we still have to find a way to score goals.
Dalton Balthaser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @DaltonBalthaser.