It was a chilly Saturday night, but redshirt-senior defender Mark Grasela was hot.
Grasela had the scoring touch that helped him score twice for Temple in its third straight victory, a 4-0 win at the Temple Sports Complex against Drexel University.
His two goals are his second and third not only for the season but also for his college career at Temple (5-5-1, 1-1 American Athletic Conference). On Aug. 29, Grasela scored his first goal against Villanova. He is now the Owls’ third-leading scorer.
“Mark deserves it,” coach David MacWilliams said. “He works extremely hard, he’s been one of our best players all year, so I’m happy for him. He’s done a great job for us.”
Both of Grasela’s goals came off set pieces, the first off a corner kick taken by senior midfielder Divin Fula Luzolo and then sent along by freshman defender Darri Sigthorsson until it came to Grasela and he knocked it in. His second came from a cross from sophomore midfielder Albert Moreno.
“It feels great,” Grasela said. “We got the result, 4-0 and a little help with two goals from me. But I couldn’t do it without the assists from my teammates, so I have to give them some credit.”
Even with Grasela’s two goals, the true game-winner came in the first 12 seconds of the game from freshman forward Alan Camacho Soto.
Camacho Soto immediately stole the ball, dribbled past Drexel’s defenders and scored.
“Every time we’ve scored early, we’ve won the game, so that’s obviously something that we would like to continue,” MacWilliams said. “But I think the first goal is always important. To get on the board early is good. I think it really helps, it motivates us.”
Temple’s quick start helped it register three goals and 15 shots in the first half. Over the course of the game, the Owls outshot the Dragons 24-14, with 10 on target as compared to Drexel’s three.
Sophomore goalkeeper Michael Samnik made his third straight start for the Owls and earned his second shutout with three saves on the night.
Junior midfielder and forward Jordan Wix Rauch led the team in shots with six. Sophomore forward Thibault Candia sent five shots at the net and scored on one of them. He has a team-high five goals.
While scoring three goals within the first 26 minutes seems like it would yield only positive results for the winning team, MacWilliams still noted some negative aspects of the game.
“I think we had a little bit of a letdown at times in the first half, and they had some chances that we were fortunate they didn’t score,” MacWilliams said. “And I think we addressed it at halftime, but overall I’m really pleased.”
“I think we got too comfortable with ourselves, so I think we could do a little bit more,” Camacho Soto said.
In the past five games, Temple has scored 13 goals. In the first five games of the season, Temple scored just three.
“We were looking for four goals in four games in the past,” MacWilliams said. “Now we’re scoring pretty regularly, so I’m pretty happy about that.”
MacWilliams and the rest of the team hopes to use the momentum they have gained in their next conference game on Saturday against Southern Methodist.
“We have four teams that are 1-1, and we’re playing at home so obviously that’s a big game for us,” MacWilliams said. “That’s a game that we definitely want to win.”