When Temple University head men’s soccer coach Nick Bochette started putting together his staff ahead of his beginning season, the first name that popped into his mind was assistant and goalkeepers coach Maria Loyden.
“She’s one of the top goalkeeping coaches in the country, I really do believe that,” Bochette added. “And I have for quite some time.”
Loyden joined the coaching staff in February as the Owls were coming off a 5-9-5 performance in 2019 and ahead of a 2020-21 season delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the uncertainty in practicing during the pandemic, she is focusing on training Temple’s goalies in their limited practices, drilling them to be as prepared for in-game decision making as possible, she said.
“It has been a challenge for sure because we’re all new to each other,” Loyden added. “None of us ever worked together before.”
Women’s soccer, like many fall collegiate sports around the country, had their fall season postponed to the spring. The season could start as early as Feb. 3 and run as late as April 24, The Temple News reported.
In addition to situational training, Loyden is also emphasizing to her players the mental side of playing goalie by constantly having conversations with them about how they are feeling and asking them where they can improve their game, Loyden said.
“I always make sure that the mental is focused on just as much as the physical, the technical and the tactical,” Loyden added. “A lot of goalkeepers struggle with that part.”
Prior to joining Temple, Loyden was the goalkeeping coach at Drexel University from 2015-18 and held the same position from 2016-17 with Sky Blue FC, a professional women’s soccer team in the National Women’s Soccer League.
Along with her wife, Loyden is the co-owner and chief financial officer of the Keeper Institute, a goalkeeping academy the pair founded in 2013 in Sewell, New Jersey.
Sophomore goalkeeper Kamryn Stablein started training with Loyden when she was 15 at the Keeper Institute, and now works for Loyden at the academy.
Without Loyden’s coaching, Stablein doesn’t believe she’d be playing Division I college soccer right now, she said.
“I think that I always had some athletic ability and talent and I wanted to work hard, but if I hadn’t met Maria, I don’t think that I’d be half the goalkeeper I am today,” Stablein added. “My mental game, my technical understanding, my deeper understanding of the game outside of goalkeeping is so much better because of her.”
Temple’s starting goalkeeper position is up for grabs this season after former starter Morgan Basileo graduated in the spring.
Senior Samantha Munyon is the only goalkeeper returning from last year’s roster, while freshmen Kyla Burns and Taylor Vecchione joined the team this summer and Stablein transferred after one year at the University of Delaware.
It’s been challenging working with a whole new group of players, but Loyden’s been “happily surprised with the high level of the sessions,” she said.
“We’re all new to each other, but then there’s the fact that we’re learning everything together and getting used to this new environment as one whole unit versus just one of us being new to everyone else,” Loyden added.
Despite the uncertainty in who will start the season at goalie, Bochette believes Loyden’s impact on each of the goalies is “massive” even though she’s only been working with them since August, he said.
“She’s been really important,” Bochette added. “Just to see how far teaching and coaching the position has come, it’s more detailed.”
Loyden has high expectations for each goalie despite whether they are the starter or not, Stablein said.
“I don’t think I’ve ever taken more out of a coach than I have with her,” Stablein added. “Her expectations of who you are goes far beyond who you want to be as a player. It matters so much more to her, just the character that she develops. She has done nothing but invest in me as a human being instead of just as a player.”