Strength and skill is what the Temple men’s soccer team exemplified as they cruised to a 3-0 win over St. Joe’s with help from their senior led defense at Temple Stadium last Saturday.
As the strength of senior sweeper Justin Kain cleared the middle of the field, fellow senior back Matt Kaufman showed the skill and distribution a senior captain and four-year starter should.
The defense set the tempo of the game by playing a hard-nose style that the boy’s of North Broad Street are very much accustomed to. After changing from a flat back four to the conventional sweeper, stopper, and two making backs in the back, the Owls were able to use the central midfield effectively and create scoring opportunities that were lacking in past games.
“With the personnel we had it just wasn’t working in the back, now with the change it seems that things are coming together,” Coach Dave McWilliams said.
The scoring opportunities started early in the game. In the fifth minute, freshman forward Steven Whacker intercepted a pass out of the back, catching the St. Joe’s defense on their heels and putting the ball through the middle of the field to freshman midfielder Nate Webb. Webb then tucked the ball in the far-post for the first score of the game.
The Owls scored again in the 10th minute when senior Jim Raish sent a ball 40 yards through the air to the waiting chest of freshman Vinney Mountney. Mountney settled the ball at the penalty spot and beat the goalie to the near post.
The Owls continued their dominating play throughout the first half by holding the Hawks scoreless through control of the midfield and a physical defense that resembled the 1985 Chicago Bears.
The game wouldn’t see its third goal until the 80th minute, when Whacker was left all alone approaching a bouncing 50-50 ball and St. Joes keeper Kevin Dougher had to come out of the box and intercept the ball. The play caused a handball and free kick at the 19-yard mark for the Owls.
With the wind at his back, junior midfielder John Burns stepped up to the ball and bent it around the wall into the upper right hand corner for the goal.
“Burnsy just eats everything up in the middle then he’s able to step up and take crucial free kicks like that,” Kain said. “It’s just so valuable to have a guy like that on your side.”
The Owls smelled the blood and continued to physically dominate the game for the last 20 minutes upsetting the Hawks, causing them to loose their composure where the began to attack bodies and not the ball.
With the 3-0 win the Owls improve to 2-4-1 but more importantly to 1-0 against conference opponents.
The Owls next contest is scheduled for Tuesday Oct. 2 against the nationally ranked Cavaliers of Virginia Cavaliers.