A very young team will be forced to go on the road for long stretches against greater opponents, and yet, when the Temple Owls talk about their new schedule, there’s nothing but restlessness to prove themselves.
“We respect everybody, but we don’t fear anybody,” coach Seamus O’Connor said.
In 2013, Temple will begin its first season in the new American Athletic Conference, following its final season as members of the Atlantic 10 Conference. With its inclusion in The American, Temple’s schedule has been dramaticallfy reconfigured. Both the non-conference and conference schedule will introduce a number of new opponents.
“There’s a lot of good teams, so it’s going to be interesting,” sophomore goalkeeper Shaunie Kerkhoff said.
Amongst the teams on the Owls’ fall schedule, eleven programs posted winning records in 2012, including NCAA tournament competitors Central Florida and Rutgers.
“All these teams are supposedly better than us, ranked higher than us [and] have winning records, but it’s the old cliche ‘you’ve got to win the game’. You can be the favorite, but you’ve got to go win the game. We’re going to make sure that anyone that does beat us in the fall is going to have to win the game. We’re not just going to give it to them,” O’Connor said.
The Owls will host eight matches at the Ambler Sports Complex, but will travel for ten of their regular season matches. Temple will visit six states outside of Pennsylvania: New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Florida, Connecticut, and Tennessee.
“It feels like they’re going on family holiday when they go on an away trip. They have fun [and] for us, it’s very exciting to now go to major cities [and go] to major universities. The experience for our players are going to be fantastic,” O’Connor said.
After two exhibition games against Wagner (Aug. 14) and Towson (Aug. 17), Temple will open the season with three consecutive August road matches against NJIT (Aug. 23), Delaware State (Aug. 25), and Mount St. Mary’s (Aug. 29).
On Sept. 6, the Owls return to the comforts of home, hosting their season opener against Marshall, at the Ambler Sports Complex.
The home opener against Marshall will begin a month that is primarily played in Ambler. Aside from road matches against Loyola Maryland (Sept. 1) and Lafayette (Sept. 15), Temple will host six of it’s eight regular season home matches in September. The Owls play host to Rider (Sept. 8), Binghamton (Sept. 13) and Delaware (Sept. 22).
Sept. 26 will mark the premiere of competition in The American for the Owls, when Temple plays against Houston at Ambler, followed by a home match against Southern Methodist (Sept. 29).
A new and addition in this year’s schedule is a road trip to Florida to face new conference foes South Florida (Oct. 4) and Central Florida (Oct. 6). The team will spend a weekend in the sunshine state before traveling to Connecticut to face UConn (Oct. 11).
“I would definitely have to say the Florida trip is a favorite for me,” Fifth year senior forward Jackie Krostek said. “The fields are going to be gorgeous”.
After its extended road trip, Temple returns home to challenge Louisville (Oct. 17), followed by a Senior Day matchup against Cincinnati (Oct. 20).
The Owls end the season with back-to-back road games, traveling to Tennessee to play against Memphis (Oct. 24) and then back to the east coast to battle Rutgers (Oct. 27) in the season finale.
Temple will confront a slew of unfamiliar scenarios in the upcoming season, including a newborn conference and a long line of steep competition, but according to O’Connor, the team won’t shy away from the obstacles 2013, in The American, may bring.
“They’re some of the top teams in the country [but, it’s] just an attitude we have this year. No one expects us to do anything. Nobody respects us. We don’t care. We’re going to earn their respect by how we play these teams,” O’Connor said.
Brien Edwards can be reached at email@example.com or on twitter @BErick1123.