Owls hope new faces help fill holes

Temple University women’s soccer plans to reclaim their spot in The American Athletic
Conference Tournament this season.

Erin Theiller, graduate student midfielder, jumps to hit the ball during a practice at the Temple Sports Complex on August 17. | ALLIE IPPOLITO / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Head coach Nick Bochette admitted the Temple University women’s soccer team looked fatigued after the first half of their season opener against the University of Maryland on Aug. 19, he said.

“We are fully aware of the progress that still needs to be made,” Bochette said. “It’s still definitely a work in progress.”

Despite starting their season with a 3-0 loss, the Owls will rely on their new team members and teamwork to stack up as many conference wins as possible and reach the American Athletic Conference tournament. 

This season, Temple will be without midfielders Julia Dolan and Emma Wilkins, who both graduated in the spring after starting 17 combined games last season. 

However, Bochette believes graduate student midfielder Erin Theiller is one of a few new faces on the team who will fill the holes left by Dolan and Wilkins. While playing for Binghamton University in 2020, Theiller was named to the first all America East Conference Team.

“We did lose a great senior class from last year, but I think we gained new and exciting players like [Theiller],” said sophomore defender Róisín McGovern. “She is really easy to play with and she’s really good with her feet so I am excited to play with her.”

Freshman midfielder Moa Andersson also drew praise from her coach and team captains during preseason practice, said graduate student defender Marissa DiGenova.

“[Andersson] has really come in and filled the role that we were looking for,” she added. “She has adjusted really well to our style of play.”

Before coming to Temple, Andersson won back-to-back district championships with Gefle IF, a Swedish professional soccer club. She also played for Swedish Elitettan, a team in Sweden’s second-highest soccer league for women. 

Bochette feels the team has a high-energy atmosphere this season and the Owls realize it’s time to buckle down and get to work.

“We are happy with the strides we made, and we have every intention to make a sizable increase this year,” Bochette said.

The Owls tried to create a more attack-minded system last season to bolster their offensive production. Despite looking faster and more aggressive, Temple still finished in the bottom half of the American Athletic Conference in points and goals per game.

“I think we have learned a lot in the last 12 months, and we are excited to put all of that hard work to good use in this season ahead,” McGovern said. 

The Owls next game is Friday, Aug. 27 at 7 p.m. against the University of Pennsylvania at the Temple Sports Complex.

“That last game was definitely pretty frustrating for all of us,” said fifth-year defender Marissa Digenova. “I think afterward we realized we can compete against all these teams in our conference and going into this season we know that we are capable of more.”

Temple has bigger ambitions than to squeak into the conference tournament, which the Owls haven’t made since 2018, but to advance during play, Bochette added.

Last season, when Temple University women’s soccer took the field against the University of Houston back on April 2, they had a chance to punch their ticket to The American Athletic Conference Tournament. Instead, the Owls were shut out, ending their season and any chances of winning an AAC Championship.

“Historically our program has a somewhat humble history in the postseason tournaments,” said head coach Nick Bochette. “Our ambitions are bigger. We want to make the tournament and win games in the tournament.”

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