In an ideal world for senior midfielder Josh Tagland, Temple would shut out each team it played.
However, for a team that gave up 37 total goals in 18 games last season, shutting out Drexel University in Saturday’s scrimmage proved to be a tall task.
The Owls jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first half, behind two goals from junior midfielder Jorge Gomez Sanchez and another from junior Carlos Moros Gracia. But the Dragons scored three unanswered goals in the second half to tie the game.
“So far defensive play has been pretty solid but there’s always room to improve that,” Tagland said. “We were up 3-0 and we tied 3-3, so we weren’t happy with that. Obviously our goal is to not give up any goals, but in the preseason a lot of guys played that don’t get much experience during the season so it’s better that they make those mistakes now than during the regular season when games count toward our RPI.”
Coach David MacWilliams cited late-game substitutions and his players’ inexperience as factors in surrendering three second-half goals But the coach said he doesn’t want that to be an excuse, as he expects each player to be ready when inserted into the game, no matter the circumstance.
“I subbed all but three starters off, and we played 3 keepers,” MacWilliams said. “We gave up 2 goals in 3 minutes near the end, so obviously I was disappointed with that. At the end of the game, no matter who’s in there we’ve got to be able to perform at a high level … We’ve got to make sure that no matter who’s in there, we’ve got to keep the same intensity up.”
In two preseason exhibition matches, the Owls have scored six goals and surrendered three goals. Last season, the Owls scored 13 goals in 18 games.
“I thought we played really well,” MacWilliams. “Speed of play got much better, we scored six goals in the preseason and I’m not sure of the last time we did that. It was great soccer, and the way we moved the ball was enjoyable to watch.”
Players like Sanchez on the team, give Temple some peace of mind offensively it did not have last season. Sanchez, a transfer from the European University of Madrid, scored 20 goals to help Osasuna’s U18 team reach the Copa Del Rey Youth Cup quarterfinals.
“As far as when we need a goal, we know we can’t put all the pressure on [Sanchez] but we know he’s there,” Tagland said. “I think it just relaxes everyone a little bit more, and as far as the other team they have to gameplan for him. If they don’t, he’s going to go out and have a hat trick probably.”
The Owls kick off the regular season on the road against Manhattan on Aug. 28 at 4 p.m.
Dan Newhart can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Dannynewhart