The 2012 season is upon the men’s soccer team, and senior midfielder Cody Calafiore said he’s ready as he’ll ever be.
It’s Calafiore’s final year sporting the Cherry and White – the colors he’s worn on game days the past two years since he transferred from Monmouth University.
“As much as I love being back, it’s hard to keep out of my head that this is the last time I’ll be in preseason, the last time I’ll be heading into the fall season at Temple,” Calafiore said. “It’s very bittersweet. It’s tough.”
At first glance, this year’s team doesn’t appear to have gone through any drastic changes since 2011. Out went six players, in came another seven. However, two glaring voids are left to be fulfilled.
Gone is Tyler Witmer, last year’s assist leader and second-leading scorer. Witmer never missed a game during his four years at Temple. He finished his collegiate career ranked ninth all-time in goals at Temple with 23 career tallies. Also gone is Dalton Carroll, who finished last year second in assists and third in shots on goal. Carroll, who started only seven games last year as a sophomore, was poised to play a significant role in 2012 before leaving the team for undisclosed reasons.
One aspect that seemingly never changes is the man in charge. Coach David MacWilliams is entering his 13th season as leader of the men’s soccer team. MacWilliams has preached that, with maturity, the Owls should be more consistent in 2012.
“I think heading into this season we are more mature,” MacWilliams said. “I look for the offense to be goal scoring by committee, with guys like [Calafiore] and Vaughn [Spurrier] leading the way.”
The 2012 group appears set to rely heavily upon last year’s points leader, Calafiore, as both a leader in the stat book and in the locker room. In his first two years at Temple, Calafiore has recorded 11 goals and 28 points. In 2010, he was named First Team All Atlantic-10 Conference.
“We all have to step up a little bit because [Witmer] was a big part of our team,” Calafiore said. “I try to fill the leadership role to the best of my ability.”
Aside from Calafiore, junior Vaughn Spurrier returns after finishing third on the team in points last year. Spurrier, with an increased workload, is looking to find a niche in MacWilliams’ offense.
Incoming freshman Jared Martinelli is also expected to give the offense a lift. Martinelli, from Mechanicsburg, Pa., finished his high school career with a laundry list of credentials. Martinelli made Pennsylvania All-State in both his junior and senior seasons, and was named a 2010 ESPN RISE All-Star.
The defense is anchored by Calafiore’s long-time friend, senior defenseman Billy Kappock, who started all 19 games last year. Junior Drayt Friedman, another key component of the Owl’s defense, is still believed to be out due to a concussion he suffered late last season. The defense helped secure five shutouts last year for junior goaltender Bobby Rosato. Rosato, a transfer from UNC Wilmington, is coming off a strong rookie season as an Owl.
“I expect to make this year even better than the first,” Rosato said. “Our defense has a lot of power and a lot of height. They are really dedicated to keeping the ball out of the net. They make my job a lot easier.”
Much like Rosato, transferring is not a particularly unfamiliar topic for Calafiore. After appearing in all 22 games of his freshman season at Monmouth, Calafiore packed his things and took off for North Broad.
“I really just wanted to come to a bigger school,” Calafiore said. “I’ve been playing with [Kappock] my whole life and I had talked to Coach MacWilliams a lot of times, so it made the transition a lot smoother.”
The Owls finished 9-10 overall in 2011 with a 5-4 record in A-10 play. They made an early first round exit in the A-10 tournament at the hands of La Salle. 2012 will be the team’s final season in the A-10 before making the transition to the Big East. The new season gets underway Aug. 31 on the road against Virginia Tech.
Despite the key loss of Witmer, Calafiore says he doesn’t feel any different regarding his role on the team.
“No added pressure,” he said. “It’s just another season.”
Except, this time, it’s his last.
Tyler Sablich can be reached at email@example.com.