Temple forwards revamp offense ahead of 2021 season

Using two forwards may give the team more space to produce scoring opportunities.

Senior defender Arryana Daniels kicks the ball during the Owls' game against Lehigh University at the Temple Sports Complex on Sept. 5, 2019. | NEIL GOLDENTHAL / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple University women’s soccer is looking to maximize the goal-scoring capability of its forwards after a 2019 season where they scored zero goals in nine games. 

“It wasn’t that we didn’t have people to score goals, it was that we never actually had the team in positions to create chances,” said head coach Nick Bochette.

In preparation for the team’s season opener on Feb. 7 at Saint Joe’s, Bochette is working with the team’s forwards to create better shot attempts by getting the ball into the penalty area and close to the net while holding onto possession. 

Last season, Temple averaged less than 10 shots and one goal per game. South Florida, who won The American Athletic Conference tournament last season, averaged more than 17 shots per game and scored more than two goals per game. 

In 2019, Temple played with senior Morgan Morocco and junior Gabi Johnson occupying the starting forward spots. 

When fall camp started, Bochette tried out a formation with three forwards instead of two, but decided two was better because it allows the midfielders to join the attack, he said. 

Johnson will play a vital role in the attack this season, as she was second on the team in total points with 10 last season. 

“She still has that same skillset and on any given day can overpower just about anyone,” Bochette said. “So hopefully she’ll continue to show that cause we know that her ceiling is higher than most people’s quite frankly.”

Sophomore forward Madison Bee will join the lineup as well and is looking to increase her production this season. Bee mostly came off the bench last season, but scored her only two goals against Delaware State on Oct. 27, 2019. 

Bee is one of the team’s taller players at 5 feet, 10 inches, allowing her to play a back-to-goal style where she finds holes in the defense that can be exploited by vertical passes. 

“Her job is to hold the ball up and make sure that pass gets to them successfully, then hold the ball up against the defense, which allows us to move up the field cohesively,” Bochette said.

Junior forward Emily Kavanaugh transferred from the University of Illinois-Chicago and will play important minutes this season. She’s still in the mix to start in the team’s first game, Bochette said. 

Before coming to Temple, Kavanaugh scored eight goals and recorded five assists over the course of the 2018 and 2019 seasons with UIC. She earned second-team all-Horizon league honors in 2018. 

“Emily [Kavanaugh], she’s a shooter,” Johnson said. “She’s great to have on the front line. She can take shots from anywhere and she has a skillset tailored to the college game, and she’s very experienced cause she’s played college soccer before.”

Through intrasquad scrimmages, Kavanaugh, Johnson and Bee are getting more comfortable working with each other and creating vertical passing lanes through the defense, Kavanaugh said. 

“We have more room to make runs up top when it’s not so crowded up there,” Kavanaugh added. “We have really good players on the width that can serve balls in really well, and our forwards can finish in the box.” 

With the season less than a week away, the team is excited to get back on the field and try out their revamped offense, Johnson said. 

“We don’t even remember our last game,” Johnson added. “Everyone’s fired up and the energy is there. It’s definitely there.”

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