Men’s soccer focuses on moving deeper into the postseason

Owls look to overcome key loss at goalkeeper.

After a successful season, the men’s soccer team will look to turn last year’s younger players into experienced veterens as they return all but three starters from a club that finished third in the Atlantic Ten Conference.

The Owls won four of their final five regular season games before being upset by Xavier in the first round of the conference tournament. The Owls were unable to overcome an early Musketeers goal and lost, 1-0.  Their 6-3 conference mark was their second best finish in conference over the last five seasons.

Coach Dave MacWilliams returns for his 11th season as head coach.  A Philadelphia-native, MacWilliams attended Frankford High and captured two City Titles in the mid-1970’s before going to play at Philadelphia Textile, now Philadelphia University. He spent 10 seasons playing professionally and was hired to coach the expansion team, the Philadelphia Kixx, in 1996.

In his 11 seasons with the Owls, MacWilliams has compiled a 72-98-18 record and two second-place conference finishes. His son, Matt MacWilliams, is a junior mid-fielder and started all 19 games last season.

Key Returners

Junior midfielder Cody Calafiore returns after tying a team-high with five goals last season, adding four assists. Earlier in August, he was named to the watch-list for the Herman Trophy, given annually to the nation’s top player. The list is comprised of 42 players, four of which are from the A-10.

MacWilliams said the junior is an impact player who gets better each year and understands the role of the central midfield position.

“He’s a competitor. He hates to lose,” MacWilliams said.  “He has a passion for the game. He has a great engine. He’s up and down the field.  He definitely wants to win and I think it shows in the way he plays.”

Also among the key returns is senior midfielder Tyler Witmer, junior midfielder Homero Rodriguez, sophomore midfielders Vaughn Spurrier and Ryan Bradbury.

Witmer was tied with Calafiore for the team lead in goals last season, and he scored the game-winning goal in a 2-1 double-overtime victory at Charlotte last season.  A central Pennsylvania native, Witmer has started each of the Owls 37 games over the last two seasons.  The Owls were undefeated (4-0) when Witmer scored a goal last season.

Players to watch

Heavily recruited by Temple two years ago as a high school senior, goalkeeper Bobby Rosato transferred this season from UNC-Wilmington and will be eligible to play for the Owls as a sophomore. MacWilliams said the team has yet to determine a starter between Rosato and freshman Dan Scheck.

Rosato was named one of the top 100 freshmen in the country by College Soccer News after posting a stellar career at Chester County’s Downingtown West High School.  His 54 career shutouts are a state record and after his senior season, he was the only boys soccer player from Southeastern Pa. to be named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America/Adidas All–America team.

“He’s a gamer,” MacWilliams said of Rosato.  “He’s very vocal.  He went elsewhere and decided that wasn’t the right decision and came back to Temple University.”

For the last three seasons, the Owls relied on the steady play of goalkeeper Bret Mollon, who graduated in the spring. His six shutouts as a senior ranked tied for fourth in the A-10.

MacWilliams said the team was looking for freshman Zach Arch to compete for a starting role, but the midfielder has yet to practice with the Owls due to an ankle injury suffered a week before the start of camp started.  Freshman midfielder Willie Chalfant will see time at both the midfielder and fullback positions.

Matt Breen can be reached at matthew.breen@temple.edu.

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