The men’s soccer team lost its first round matchup against La Salle, 2-0.
The Owls’ season came to an abrupt end Thursday with a 2-0 defeat at the hands of the La Salle Explorers in the opening round of the Atlantic Ten Tournament.
Explorers’ sophomore midfielder Jason Plumhoff broke a scoreless tie in the 66th minute off of a penalty kick that proved to be the game-winning score.
La Salle freshman forward Rob Friskey proceeded to end any hope for the Owls when he tapped one past Temple’s sophomore goalkeeper Bobby Rosato in the 85th minute, which gave the Explorers a two-goal lead that would stand as the game’s final score.
In a game in which the Owls had more than enough scoring opportunities, they could not figure out La Salle’s sophomore goalkeeper John McCarthy, who stopped all 11 shots on net.
“We should have been up 3-0 after the first half,” coach David MacWilliams said. “With any other keeper in there on that night I feel we would have scored three goals in the half, but [McCarthy] had an awesome game. We just couldn’t finish against him.”
Temple had 25 total shots, as opposed to the Explorers’ 14 with just six of them on net against Rosato. It was a game that Temple could have easily won and left the Owls wondering what could have become of a season that looked promising.
“This type of game is a game that you don’t want to lose,” junior midfielder Cody Calafiore said. “It’s a playoff game and we didn’t want to be the team to go home early especially since the other team is from the city. It’s disappointing being the team to go home early.”
The loss came just six days after Temple’s win against the Explorers last Friday that played a big part in the Owls clinching a spot in the A-10 tourney.
“This game was intense, not just because it was a playoff game but also because both teams know each other well and are from the same city,” MacWilliams said. We played them last week and won and I thought we could do it again.”
“We’re two pretty evenly matched teams and prior to the game I told my guys that whoever scores first will win the game, and that’s what happened,” MacWilliams added.
The loss also concludes what proved to be an up and down season for Temple. After winning three of their first four conference games this season, Temple went 2-3 the rest of the way but still managed to qualify for the A-10 Tournament.
For MacWilliams, there was a lot to take away from the season.
“We needed to work on our finishing,” he said. “It was key for us this year and we needed more players to be able to finish on a regular basis and we didn’t have that. We would’ve fared a lot better if we had been more consistent with that.”
“Discipline hurt us this year too,” MacWilliams added. “We spoke about that before [Thursday’s] game and we were a lot better with that in the first half, but our discipline problems showed again in the second half and it pretty much ended our season with the [penalty kick].”
Last Thursday’s game also was the last game for Temple’s seniors, including midfielder Tyler Witmer, who has been one of the Owls’ most productive players over the previous four seasons.
“Playing for this team and with these guys was a great experience,” Witmer said. “Obviously I wanted to go to the NCAA playoffs and I never got to do that. I felt I put my 100 percent effort in day in and day out and I know that I’m going to wish I could’ve done more, but I have no regrets about my career here.”
The Owls will feel Witmer’s absence next year, MacWilliams said. Witmer said he plans on taking his career to the professional level post graduation.
“Replacing [Witmer] is going to be tough,” MacWilliams added. “We had four players who scored regularly for us this year and he was one of them. We will need someone to step up next year.”
Among those that could help fill Witmer’s shoes are sophomore forward Vaughn Spurrier and fellow sophomore Nolan Hemmer at the midfield position.
However, no player on this team is more primed to step into Witmer’s shoes than Calafiore, whose season was hampered by a nagging injury to his left ankle.
“I started off really well early on, but the ankle injury was a huge setback,” Calafiore said. “Not playing at 100 percent every game was tough. I was in pain every game and I didn’t have the season I was expecting myself to have at all.”
“I like to have my time off, but after the way it ended it really makes me want to get started right away,” Calafiore added. “This is really disappointing and I don’t want to have this feeling after my senior year. I want to go out knowing I put my 100 percent and doing the best I could do.”
Drew Parent can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.