David MacWilliams carries five goalies on his roster, all of whom he believes are capable of stepping in.
Dan Scheck, Bobby Rosato, Patrick Lestingi, Alex Cagle, and Joseph Melong all play under MacWilliams, who insists that all five of them would be fine starters for his squad.
“All of them have to be quality shot-stoppers, and I think they all are,” MacWilliams said. “Quality keepers are something you can never have enough of, and I think it’s tough because teams can rarely have one quality keeper, and we’re fortunate that we’ve got five. I think any one of these kids could go anywhere else and start for a lot of teams.”
Scheck, a senior and the preseason American Athletic Conference Goalkeeper of the Year, has the starting job. MacWilliams said Rosato would most likely be the backup, due to his experience as the Owls’ starter during the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
In theory, having five players all fighting for the starting job could make for a harsh relationship, but that’s not the main focus for any of the players, Rosato said.
“It’s pushing the next guy to be better,” Rosato, a redshirt senior, said. “[I’m] looking to push Scheck, looking to push the younger guys too. It’s all about improving all five of us at the same time.”
Lestingi, a junior, said he thinks the large amount of time the group spends together in-season and during the offseason leads to bolstered chemistry on and off the field.
“I feel like we have a pretty strong bond together,” Lestingi said. “We’re together every day for at least half an hour, 45 minutes alone, [so] I feel we’re all connected pretty well.”
During that practice time, it can be hard for all five goalies to see enough repetitions during practice. But MacWilliams said goalkeeping coach Evan Prybutok works with every one of his keepers to ensure they stay sharp and could step in any time.
However, Melong, a freshman, said goalies may know each other’s limits better than the coaches themselves.
“It’s definitely good having five goalkeepers, especially for drill purposes,” Melong said. “Then you can push each other, because if the coach isn’t involved and he doesn’t know how tired you may be, you know the extent to how much you can push each other.”
Melong added that because four other guys know each respective drill, each one of them know the fine line between when an exercise is getting the most out of an individual and when one becomes too much work to be beneficial.
Another young keeper on MacWilliams’ squad, redshirt freshman Cagle, will compete with Lestingi and Melong for the starting job next year. Scheck and Rosato are competing in their final year with the program.
That’s not to say that Scheck had the position locked up from the start this season, either. The Sayville, New York native said he had to fight for his spot like any of the other four guys.
“Going into practices and even preseason, no one was guaranteed anything,” Scheck said. “We’ve all had to work for our spots, and overall I think it’s good for us, and it’s a lot of competitiveness out there.”
Still, there will be a battle to replace Scheck next season. Cagle, who is the tallest keeper for Temple at 6-foot-3-inches, said there are advantages and disadvantages to having that extra height.
“I’m kind of at that upper limit being 6-[foot]-3-[inches],” Cagle said. “It’s kind of hard to get anything that’s down low …but it definitely helps in the air on crosses, and going up against taller forwards. Overall I think it’s an advantage.”
Lestingi said that the competition next season will be tough due to Cagle and Melong being “great goalies,” but he hopes to win the starting job come August 2015.
Melong has the added benefit of having played with sophomore defender Robert Sagel for two years in high school.
“The chemistry [Sagel] and I have together, I feel, is closer than anyone else on the team,” Melong said. “It’s definitely a different style of play … but it’s obviously good to have someone you grew up playing with.”
MacWilliams ultimately linked the chemistry between his guys to an important unit from another sport.
“It’s almost like an offensive line [in football], where they go out together and do things together,” MacWilliams said. “[My goalies] are pretty tight, they like one another. There’s no animosity, they push one another, they all work hard and are all good guys.
Steve Bohnel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter @SteveSportsGuy1