Redshirt-senior goalie Bret Mollon has been solid since transferring.
An important aspect of goalkeeping is having great confidence from one’s coach, teammates and oneself.
Look no further than this summer’s World Cup for a perfect example of how a goalkeeper’s confidence is important leading into a match. England’s Fabio Capello had little confidence leading up to the World Cup as to who would be starting goalkeeper. England announced just before its game against the U.S. that Robert Green would be the starter for the national team. It backfired. The “hand of clod” struck England, and Green allowed one of the easiest goals in World Cup history.
Temple men’s soccer coach Dave MacWilliams has great confidence in his goalkeeping situation. For the last three seasons, MacWilliams has had the same man serve as the team’s last line of defense against opposing attacks. Redshirt-senior Bret Mollon, the starting goalkeeper for the Owls, has been the guy in the net for the Owls since he transferred to Temple in 2008.
“If you are unsure of that guy, then it makes everybody else uneasy, but Bret has done a tremendous job,” MacWilliams said.
Mollon is an excellent shot stopper, and he has all the tools to look for in a goalkeeper: height, lateral quickness and great hands. He has learned to play the position better by reading attacks and being able to adjust his defense accordingly. His distribution has gotten better, and he is shutting out the competition, literally.
The 6-foot-1-inch goalie has enjoyed plenty of success throughout his career, which began at Oakland University in Michigan. Mollon chose Oakland because it is 30 minutes away from his hometown, Washington, Mich. During his freshman year in 2006, Mollon received no playing time and used his option to redshirt at Oakland.
In 2007, he saw action in three scoreless games for an Oakland squad that advanced to the NCAA Tournament and defeated Michigan State in the opening round, 2-1. The win was the first for any Summit League team in NCAA postseason history. The Golden Grizzlies lost to Notre Dame, 2-1, in the second round, in what would be the last game Mollon would wear an Oakland uniform.
Mollon enjoyed success inside the net in 2006 and 2007, even with the lack of playing time at Oakland. In 2006, he led the Michigan Bucks, a minor league affiliate of Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew and member of the United Soccer League’s Premier Development League, to its first national championship. The following season, he was in the net for Inter FC, where he would win the Utah State championship.
As the 2008 season approached, he made the decision to find somewhere else to play. The potential of playing for another NCAA Tournament team in Oakland was not enough for him. He wanted an opportunity to start and began searching for schools that had senior goalkeepers who would be leaving the team.
“I just wanted to explore my options,” Mollon said. “If I would have stayed there, I would have had two years to start instead of three.”
He found MacWilliams and Temple as a potential landing spot in his search. He has family who lives in the Philadelphia area and was always fond of the basketball program. Most importantly, the goalkeeper position was open for the taking.
“Bret was e-mailing some coaches, and he e-mailed me,” MacWilliams said. “He was looking for an opportunity to play, and I told him we were definitely looking for a goalkeeper.”
Not only did Mollon make the team, but he has started all but one game since he transferred to Temple in 2008. He recorded his first shutout on Sept. 19, 2008, in a 2-0 win over Hofstra. The shutouts would keep coming, and Mollon finished the season leading the Atlantic 10 Conference in shutouts with nine. The nine shutouts tied for a single-season school record set by Jeff Kraft in 1978 and matched by Pat Hannigan in 2003. Kraft also recorded nine shutouts in 1979 and 1980 seasons as well. The Owls finished second in the A-10 during the regular season, their best finish since 1990.
“I didn’t expect to tie for the school record for shutouts my first year playing,” Mollon said. “But the year before, [Temple] had five wins, and I came, and we turned the program around. We got 10 wins and another winning season last year.”
The Owls are looking for more of the same this season, but they have started slow out of the gate. The team recorded its first win of the season last Wednesday in a 4-0 win over Rider. The Owls have played well this season despite their 1-4-2 record.
“The positive is we still play well. Last year, we lost three games in a row, and we didn’t really play well at all,” MacWilliams said. “I think we’ve played well. We just haven’t come out with the results. We got to find a way to win these games and get the confidence that when the game is tight that we’re going to be coming out on the positive side.”
Mollon already has three shutouts this season despite just one win. His ideal situation would be to follow former Owl midfielder J.T. Noone, and play professionally.
“I want to play. That’s always been my dream to play professionally,” Mollon said. “I’m going to pursue that and see where it takes me.”
Mollon will graduate in May with a degree in physical therapy.
It’s been a remarkable career for Mollon. As a three-year starter at Notre Dame Prep, he recorded 31 shutouts. In three games of action at Oakland University, he held the opposition scoreless. Since his arrival at Temple, he has 18 clean sheets. That is a total of 52 shutouts.
“The coaching staff has a great amount of confidence in him,” MacWilliams said, “and so do his teammates.”
Joe Serpico can be reached at email@example.com.