Playing games on the road can be a problem for some teams, but it doesn’t seem to faze the men’s soccer team. They see the games as an opportunity to improve for conference play.
Of the eight non-conference games played, seven have been on the road. And the atmosphere away from home has not been too friendly, according to senior goalkeeper Patrick Hannigan.
“It’s been tough. We haven’t been getting any calls to go our way,” he said. “The referees have been really bad. But that is good for our team, and good for the conference schedule, because we have seven away games in the Atlantic Ten.”
The referees on the road might not be friendly, but the Owls have managed to go 5-3 in their time away from home thus far. This weekend they conclude their non-conference schedule with two matches at the Dartmouth Tournament.
Hannigan said the team has built up a tolerance for playing on the road.
“We’re up in our level of discipline,” he added. “On the road, you aren’t going to get any calls. That is something you need to understand. You just have to go out and win the game without worrying about any outside interferences.”
Coach David MacWilliams agreed with Hannigan’s sentiments.
“I told the guys that it was going to be a tough season, because we are away from home,” MacWillams said. “Close calls don’t seem to go your way, but I think we have handled ourselves pretty well.”
Goalkeeping has been the Owls’ strongest suit. Opponents have scored only five goals. That’s an average of 0.6 goals a game.
When you compare the Owls’ shots on goal to that of their opponents, there is a glaring disparity. Opponents have taken 35 more shots on goal than the Owls, which could point to defensive breakdowns. But for the Owls, it’s an offensive issue.
The absence of senior forward Nate Webb, who has played in just one game this season, has been hampered by a back injury. It is the main reason for the squad’s lagging offensive output.
Webb netted 11 goals in 2003 to lead the team. He sustained the injury in an exhibition game.
To the relief of MacWilliams, Webb could return to the field by next week.
“We definitely miss Nate. He is a big part of our team, especially the offensive part,” MacWilliams said. “We haven’t been able to find the net very much without him.”
Once Webb returns, Temple could be poised to make their anticipated run at the conference title.
Their first A-10 game is against one of their fiercest rivals, No. 24 Rhode Island, Oct. 1. The game will be Temple’s first official home game at their brand new field on Ambler campus.
“URI has been our biggest rival,” added Hannigan. “We are very motivated to come out and prove to everybody that we shouldn’t have lost that game and we are going to prove that in our first conference game.”
Andrew Monaghan can be reach at email@example.com.