The men’s soccer team has a tough task ahead in the upcoming season.
Not only do they move to a more competitive conference, The American, but they also bring in 11 new players to the team. Even with a new conference and new faces on the team, coach Dave MacWilliams says he does not mind the pressure going into the season because he feels his team is up for the challenge.
“Moving to a new conference is obviously going to be tough,” MacWilliams said. “I think the level is going to be higher than the Atlantic 10 Conference. Having said that, we have a good nucleus and am looking forward to the season,”
Temple will be going up against two top 10 teams, #5 UConn and #7 Louisville, as well as South Florida and Southern Methodist ranked #27 and #41 respectively. Despite the numerous top-ranked teams in the conference, according to MacWilliams, the key going into the season will not be focusing on the ranked teams, but on winning non-conference or winnable games to stay in contention for a playoff spot.
“It’s going to be a challenge for us,” MacWilliams said. I think we’re at a different level now. We’re going to playing teams at a different level now. [So] obviously the key for us is to win nonconference [games] and get a good start and that’ll be the key for us.”
However, winning games may not be as easy as last season. While Temple was able to rack up 10 wins last term, the amount of competition this season is much higher than in 2012. In the A-10, there was no ranked opposition to face. Now, there are four ranked teams to play against as well as other tough opponents in the conference.
“Obviously we’re going to need time to compete against these teams,” MacWilliams said. “Nothing against the A-10, [which is] a mid-level conference, but having six or seven teams in the top 20 in the same conference makes it very difficult [for us to compete]. We’re going to need to score goals and lots of them.”
The multitude of new athletes joining the roster is a whole other issue for MacWilliams. The new players aren’t just recruited to be bench warmers; they will be competing for starting positions.
”The challenge for us is going to be the chemistry because we have new faces and [they] will be competing for time right away. So, continuity and chemistry will be an issue in the beginning. I thought last season was a good season for us, but we didn’t win the high ranked games. We should raise the level to be able to compete and beat high ranked teams.”
The Owls start the season with exhibition games on Aug. 20 and will experience The American for the first time on Sept. 6 against Wofford.
Hoon Jin can be reached at email@example.com.