Last season looked like it might be something special for David MacWilliams’s team.
The Owls began the season 7-0-1, and earned a No.17 ranking in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America coaches poll by September.
But things changed when the Owls began play in the American Athletic Conference. They dropped their first three conference games on their way to a 2-6 conference record, including a loss from all four of their conference road games. As for the postseason, Temple suffered a four-goal first round loss in The American’s conference tournament.
This season, the Owls hope to change the narrative and stay consistent for the second half of the season.
“Our biggest challenge this year will be staying focused on the ultimate goal,” senior midfielder Dan White said. “Last year, after a great start we stumbled our way through conference play. The mental side of soccer is just as important as having the technical and physical ability in order to succeed. We need to approach every game and every play with the win-or-die attitude.”
The team’s ultimate goal is to win The American and qualify for the NCAA tournament. The Owls’ best chance at gaining entry into the NCAA tournament would be to win the conference and get an automatic bid.
“We have to finish our chances,” MacWilliams said. “Last year we struggled a little bit in conference. We had some injuries, not to make that as an excuse, but we just have to do a better job in conference.”
Temple lost four seniors from last season’s team including midfielder/forward Jared Martinelli, who ended his Temple career with 21 assists, which ranks second in program history.
Returning for Temple this season is senior midfielder Jorge Gomez Sanchez, who led the Owls with 13 goals last season and made the preseason all-conference squad. As for the defense, senior defenders Matt Mahoney and Carlos Moros Gracia will return as captains to help Temple on the back line.
In addition to the five returning starters, Temple brought in eight freshmen. Freshmen Zach Brown, George McGee, Nick Sarver and Albert Moreno are a few key players MacWilliams said could make an impact this year.
“There are quite a few kids that I think can help us, but a lot of it is they’re adding depth to our program right now,” MacWilliams said. “I think we have four or five seniors that will probably be starting, so it’s a good year for these guys to get some experience so when our seniors move on they can be ready to step right in.”
“The freshman and transfers are a very talented and focused group of players,” White added. “They’ve already shown the impact they can have, with many contributing in the first two exhibition games, and Zach Brown scoring the game-winner against Lafayette.
Maura Razanauskas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.