The men’s soccer team finished its 2000 season on a high a note as the Owls extended their winning streak to a season-high four games with a 3-2 win over Atlantic 10 rival St. Bonaventure Sunday.
On a balmy day at Temple Stadium, the Owls overcame windy conditions to best the Bonnies behind an all-around solid team effort and a four-point offensive performance by junior mid-fielder Angelo DiCarlo.
“I think it was probably some of the best soccer we played all season,” said Temple head coach David MacWilliams. “Even when we were playing into the wind during the first half, we were still able to apply pressure and score two goals.”
DiCarlo led the way for the Owls offensively with a goal and two assists.
Battling into the steady wind, the junior opened the scoring when he knocked home a Matt Kaufman pass at the 20-minute mark of the first half to give the Owls the 1-0 lead.
Seven minutes later, Di Carlo helped Temple increase its lead to 2-0 when he fed a pass to freshman Matt Moran, who beat freshman goalie Tom Landry for his second goal of the season.
St. Bonny freshman Nick Blair cut the Owl lead in half when he netted the first goal of his collegiate career past Temple goalkeeper Cornelius Murphy in the 34th minute of play. Senior Sean Kelty recorded an assist on the goal, his sixth of the season.
Only six minutes later, Kelty then knotted the score at 2-2 when he drilled home his third goal of the year on a free kick.
With the wind at their backs, the Owls regained control in the second half. Junior Jeff Fisher scored his second goal of the season at the sixty-eight minute mark to give the Owls a 3-2 lead.
The goal, which came courtesy of a Di Carlo pass, proved to be the game winner as the Owls defense held the Bonnies scoreless throughout the second half to notch the 3-2 win.
Murphy, a recent Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week, once again provided the Owls with a solid performance in net. The freshman racked up eight saves on 14 shots to help secure the Owls’ fourth straight victory.
For the Owls, the 2000 campaign was a season of ups and downs.
First-year head coach MacWilliams expressed mixed emotions about his first season in which he saw his team mired in an 11-game losing streak for much of the season, only to come back and finish off the season with four straight wins.
“It’s good that we finished off on a good point, but I think there is still a lot of room for improvement,” MacWilliams said. “Even when we could have easily given up during the losing streak, I think all the guys and the coaching staff continued to work hard every day, and that is a credit to the character of this team.”
With a final overall record of 5-11, MacWilliams chalked this less-than-stellar first season up as a learning experience.
“I’m not comfortable with losing,” he said. “I’m never happy about that, but I think this first year can be marked up as a learning experience. When you change coaches, you’re often going to have that transition period of the kids getting used to a new coaching staff and a new program.
“I think as the season went on the kids became more and more comfortable with the system and it really showed in their play.”
With his first season now under his belt, MacWilliams will focus on the 2001 recruiting class. The key word for the Owls this off season is “improvement.”
MacWilliams and his staff will look to recruit a talented freshman class to build around his solid nucleus of returning players.
“We definitely want to improve with players coming in, and there is a definite need to do that,” MacWilliams said. “Not only do we need to strengthen our starting 11, but we need to strengthen the depth of the bench as well. We’re are looking to upgrade this entire program, and I definitely believe we’re in a position to do that here.”
The Owls finished the season at 5-11-0 overall and 4-6-0 in the A-10. With the loss, St. Bonaventure finished the season at 6-12-0 overall and 4-6-0 in the A-10.