Playing time for freshmen is a toss-up. Some, like women’s soccer goalie Tiffany Kasunich, get thrown into the mix earlier than others. Some don’t see the field at all. Bryant Hosler got his chance before the men’s soccer team’s season even began.
The freshman from Lititz, Pa., was named the Owls’ starting goalkeeper after sophomore Tony Pratico suffered an ACL sprain in preseason play.
This is not the first time Hosler has replaced an injured player in net. He began playing goalie on his under-12 team in a similar situation.
“The other goalie got hurt, so I stepped in and was willing to play,” Hosler said.
Before coming to Temple, Hosler said, he played defense and midfield in addition to goalie. If needed, he said he’ll play the field if needed.
Hosler said he came to Temple because of academics, but found the urban and diverse campus just as attractive. From a soccer standpoint, he chose Temple over his next choice -Division III Messiah College in Grantham, Pa.-for an opportunity to play against more rigorous competition.
“The D-I schedule was a better opportunity for me to see how collegiate soccer is played,” he said.
Against Marshall on Sept. 1, Hosler made his debut in net in the Owls’ season opener. In a game he said he would never forget, Hosler made seven saves in a 2-1 loss.
“I was afraid to make a mistake, and I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t nervous,” he said.
Coach David MacWilliams said earlier in the year that he has been pleased with Hosler performance so far. Even so, it has taken the young goalkeeper some time to make the adjustment from high school to college soccer.
His two biggest adjustments are dealing with larger players and a more physical style of play.
“[College soccer] is more aggressive and hardcore, and everybody is so much bigger,” Hosler said. “In high school, I was one of the bigger guys on the field. Now, I feel like one of the smaller guys.”
Hosler admitted that earlier in the season, he was a bit intimidated. He said that getting a few more games under his belt has helped.
The entire team has been very supportive of Hosler, knowing that he and Pratico have big shoes to fill in net after two-time conference defensive player of the year Pat Hannigan graduated last spring.
The most supportive teammates have been the defenders, the seniors, and Pratico, Hosler said.
“He has done good, considering we haven’t given him any goal support,” Pratico said.
While Pratico was upset about getting hurt, Hosler said Pratico has not shown any negativity toward the situation.
“Tony has helped me get adjusted to the different style of play,” Hosler said. “He knows what goes on in net, compared to some other players on the field who don’t know what it’s like to be a goalie.”
As far as what his role will be once Pratico returns, Hosler is unsure.
“I don’t know the situation, and I’m not going to assume anything,” he said. “That’s the coach’s call.”
The mental area of the game is still his weakness, Hosler said.
“I get antsy to go after the ball,” on corner kicks, he said. “It hurts me in that aspect.”
While Pratico is missing time nursing his injury, the best thing Hosler can do is stay healthy. After third-string goalie Mike Birnbaum quit the team last week, Hosler is the only uninjured goalie on the depth chart.
“The coach would joke with me and tell me I can’t get hurt,” Hosler said.
Dan Murphy can be reached at email@example.com.