The men’s soccer team fell in its second and final scrimmage on Saturday against Rider University 2-1 at Ambler Sports Complex—and coach Dave MacWilliams believes that result wasn’t because of talent.
“I just didn’t think we competed enough today,” MacWilliams said. “Give Rider credit, they came and they competed. They won every 50-50 ball, every air ball, and secondary ball, and I don’t think we did that enough.”
Temple grabbed the first goal of the day via another penalty kick from sophomore defender Robert Sagel. The play was setup by freshman midfielder Dinho Zwane, who evaded three defenders in Rider’s penalty box before being clipped and falling to the ground.
Zwane, who is only 5’5”, said that his lack of height actually helps him to veer through defenders easily. The freshman also noted that his teammates are there for him if he slips up trying to dribble through the opposition.
“It truly does help [being short],” Zwane said. “Being quick, and also knowing that my teammates will help me move on if I make mistakes.”
Zwane, the South African native, added that he must work on his defensive play in order for Temple to keep improving throughout the year. The midfield unit as a whole also has to progress if the Owls are to keep turning heads this fall.
“I think in a lot of games, the center of the field wins the game,” MacWilliams said. “And I don’t think we’ve been strong there the past two games, and that’s definitely something we have to work on.”
One of the areas the midfield needs to work on specifically is the transition game. Temple has struggled to connect passes from the back line through the midfield to the forwards in the attacking third.
Zwane said that facet of the game has to do with speed from goal line to goal line, as well as another skill that is vital in the sport of soccer in general.
“We need to come together as a team and share [the ball] more and communicate,” Zwane said. “I think communication is the biggest thing in the game.”
Rider’s two goals came in the second half, both from inside the penalty box. The first was an easy tap in off a cross, where three Rider forwards all could have finished from a couple feet from the goal line. The second was a shot from just inside edge of the box that found the upper right hand corner of the net.
MacWilliams said both goals could have been prevented with better marking. Organization across the board is something that Temple needs to work on, but starting senior goalkeeper Dan Scheck said he is happy with his current backline as it stands.
“The back four as a whole, we’re very good, very organized,” Scheck said. “Mahoney, Stef [Mueller] and Sagel are all returners, and they all have a year under their belt, so I’m expecting big things from them.”
The question of who fills the fourth and final spot on the back four has yet to be determined. MacWilliams said that several guys have a shot at winning the job, but Scheck feels there is probably one guy who will win the spot.
“I think we have [senior] Jonah Williams, who’s done a great job of stepping into that role,” Scheck said. “I think he has come in has proven himself well back there.”
At the end of the day, there’s still a lot to be done for MacWilliams’ squad. Rider finished last season with a record of 8-9-1, and although they were able to press and counter Temple with success, MacWilliams feels the talent for his team is there—a complete solid effort for 90 minutes, however, isn’t.
“I think we’ve got to raise our competition level,” MacWilliams said. “I think there’s some laxity there, and we’ve got to be able to step up and compete… Both teams that have come in and competed against us showed the sacrifice and willingness to do that, and I don’t think we have that yet.”
Steve Bohnel can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @SteveSportsGuy1.