Freshman Stefan Mueller has played in every minute of every game during his rookie season.
Growing up in East Northport, N.Y., soccer meant everything to Mueller. He started playing at four years old and has continued ever since.
“Soccer was all I did when I younger,” Mueller said. “I was playing on multiple teams at once, playing every day. And that’s all I wanted to do all day. I liked going to school, but soccer was my main focus. Hopefully I can make a career out of it someday.”
After visiting eight to 10 other colleges, Temple was the last school Mueller visited before making his final decision. Mueller said he liked the atmosphere at Temple and the coaching staff, led by David MacWilliams.
Now in his first season with the Owls, Mueller is starting for the team as a right fullback. However, Mueller said it wasn’t easy transitioning from high school to collegiate level.
“It was a little bit overwhelming at first,” Mueller said. “Being in practices every day, it was a lot to handle. It took a little bit of adjusting. The college level is definitely much more physical and faster. It took a little bit of getting used to and now it’s natural.”
Senior defenseman Nolan Hemmer said it isn’t easy for a freshman to break into the team. He said, every position is an earned spot and Mueller definitely earned his spot as a starter.
“I think he adjusted well and [it] wasn’t too hard for him,” Hemmer said. “He came in as a left back so there wasn’t much adjustment in terms of position. As for the physicality and play of college soccer, he is doing just fine.”
“Pretty much every team I’ve been involved with, I’ve been a starter, whether in the midfield or defense,” Mueller said. “I was consistent in getting playing time and now same with college.”
Although he’s now settled in as a starter, Mueller credits senior midfield captain Ryan Bradbury for helping him transition into the team smoothly. Mueller said Bradbury told every freshman how to position themselves on the pitch when the ball is at a certain place. Whenever freshmen had a question, Bradbury was there to answer it, Mueller said.
“I think [Mueller’s] obviously doing it well,” MacWilliams said. “He’s still going to get better and grow as a player and mature more. He’s done a good job for us back there.”
“I had a lot of good freshmen and good players,” MacWilliams added. “Right now I think he fits the mold we have at the moment. As an outside back, I think he’s athletic and quick and that’s the thing we like the most about [him].”
“His strengths are that he is left-footed, which every team needs on the left side,” Hemmer said. “He also has some speed in the attack and makes good overlapping runs. As for weaknesses, I don’t want to say he has a weakness, but he could improve on his vocalizing on the field, which will come with experience.”
With half the season already played, Mueller said he still has some personal goals he wants to accomplish before the season ends.
“I got my first assist a couple games ago,” Mueller said. “But I’m still waiting on my first goal. But as a team goal, it is to qualify for the NCAA tournament. And I think our freshman class could be a big program changer.”
Hoon Jin can be reached at email@example.com.