The men’s soccer team is coming down to its final stretch of regular season games, and the results have been much different than in recent years. Instead of ending its season early, the team is hoping for a high seed in the Atlantic Ten Conference Tournament.
Goals haven’t come easy for the team the past few seasons, but this season has been different. Freshman forward Tyler Witmer currently leads the team in goals with six. His counterpart, junior forward J.T. Noone, has five. The striking duo has 11 of the team’s 21 goals.
In 2007, the team scored only 15 goals. With four games remaining, the forwards have an opportunity to score more goals as a pair than the entire team did last year.
Witmer is contributing significantly for a freshman. He was named Berks County Player of the Year last year as the senior captain at Conrad Weiser High School. He also was named to the All-County, All-State and Regional All-American teams. Witmer, who originally committed to Messiah College, decided to come to Temple because of the opportunity to play for a Division I team.
Witmer described the differences between high school soccer and college soccer as the physicality, pace of the game and quickness of the players.
So it’s a good thing he’s had some help getting adjusted to the style of play.
“J.T. Noone helps me out a lot because we pretty much play the same position,” Witmer said. “But the whole team has been very supportive to help me out so that I can help them out.”
Noone has been impressed with the play from the freshman.
“A lot he has brought to the team himself,” he said. “I try to tell him little bits of the game he can improve, but he is very talented as it is.”
Noone has been a significant player for the Cherry and White during his three seasons. He has started nearly every game since arriving and currently leads the team in assists. His eight assists are half the team’s total and best in the A-10. He leads the team in total points with 18.
Last year, he was named to the ESPN The Magazine Men’s Soccer Academic All-District 2 University Division Second Team with a 3.93 cumulative GPA.
“Anytime you can get named for anything on ESPN, it’s an honor,” Noone said.
The team is much improved since the start of Noone’s career at Temple, and he has been pleased with the results.
“Everyone is playing very well together and working hard for each other,” he said. “The results this year have been a lot different from the past couple years.”
Both men credited coach David MacWilliams as the big reason for the team’s turnaround.
“The competitive environment coach demands every day draws a lot out of our performance,” Noone said.
The pair has led the team to a 7-4-3 start and a 3-1-1 record in the conference. The ultimate goal for the team is to finish the season strong and make the A-10 Tournament. The final four games are all conference games and will determine what seed the Owls earn for the Tournament.
All four games are at home.
“Our season has been fun, but our main goal is to make the A-10 Tournament,” Witmer said. “If we win that, then we get a shot at the NCAA Tournament.”
A RAINY WEEKEND
The Owls defeated Saint Joseph’s on Saturday with a 2-0 win, and Noone was credited with an assist on the second goal. The assist was his second assist against the visiting Hawks.
The game turned out well for the Owls, but the weather was less than pleasant. The teams played through a heavy downpour and winds.
“It was awful to play in,” Noone said. “I even saw a couple small bits of snow coming through.”
Joe Serpico can be reached at email@example.com.