When Temple Men’s Soccer entered the 2022 season, they were hoping to improve their offense after ranking near the bottom of the conference in most offensive statistics during the 2021 season.
Instead, the Owls finished with a record of 4-9-3, with just one win against opponents in the American Athletic Conference. As a result of their underwhelming season, the university decided not to renew the contract of former head coach Brian Rowland, who finished with a cumulative record of 24-43-13 during his tenure with the Owls.
Temple immediately began a national search for their next head coach following the firing, but the team is trying to remain a cohesive unit throughout the transition period. Although the Owls struggled, they remain confident that they can overcome the tactical struggles they experienced by staying together.
“As a group, we still were a close group even with everything that went on during the season,” said senior forward Mike Eijgendaal.
Prior to the start of the season, Rowland believed the team would benefit from multiple players returning from injury, like redshirt junior forward Sean Karani and senior midfielder Kemali Green.
Rowland was also hopeful senior forward Yann Kouemi would make an impact on offense after transferring from Mount St. Mary’s University in 2020 and being benched for the 2021 season due to transfer rules.
The team scored just 14 goals in the 2021 season, and only scored 18 goals during the 2022 season despite their offensive reinforcements and their preseason goal of applying more consistent offensive pressure in their opponent’s final third.
Although he missed three matches due to injury, Kouemi still led the Owls in goals scored with four across 13 matches. However, Kouemi believed he could have done more to help the team succeed, he said.
“I have bigger goals, I like to score more goals to help the team out,” Kouemi said. “I set my personal goals during the preseason that I wanted to accomplish during the season, which was for more than ten goals but I missed a couple of games and had some injuries on the road. That didn’t happen but I am still looking forward for the future.”
The Owls also expected Eijendaal to have an influential role in determining their level of success by serving as one of the team’s captains during the season.
“I played a big role in just keeping the team together during the tough moments we faced throughout the season,” Eijgendaal said. “Always room for improvement, especially on the leadership part.”
Defensively, Temple gave up 34 goals, the most allowed by the program since 2014.
Redshirt junior goalkeeper Eoin Gawronski, who played just four games in the 2021 season before suffering a season-ending foot injury, was back in goal and was expected to be an important piece for the Owls this season.
Although Gawronski recorded a career-high three shutouts, he finished the season with just a 71 percent save percentage, placing him third-to-last among qualified goalkeepers in the AAC. Gawronski took responsibility for defensive mishaps and knows he has things to work on, he said.
“I was conceding a lot of goals which is obviously not a good look,” Gawronksi said. “I need to do a much better job with shot stopping and keeping more clean sheets and winning more games.”
If the Owls expect to compete with top teams in the AAC then the team must make drastic changes, but with the search underway to find the Owls’ next head coach, Temple players realize the future is unknown.
“We’re trying to connect as a group more through the offseason and really focus as a team,” Gawronski said. “It’s going to be a fresh start for most of us and a lot of the new guys so I think it’s going to be a good opportunity to work this offseason and really develop for the fall.”
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