Saturday’s win closed out non-conference play. The Owls face Saint Joseph’s next.
Following a sporadic start to the season, the men’s soccer team hopes to gain some consistency entering the Atlantic Ten Conference portion of its schedule.
After a win against crosstown rival Villanova back on Sept. 4, the Owls proceeded to go 0-3-1 in their next four games. Fortunately for the Cherry and White, they managed to right the ship and entered Saturday’s matchup with the Siena Saints riding a three-game winning streak.
The Owls (5-3-1) kept their winning streak going with a 2-0 victory over the Saints (5-4-1). It wasn’t easy, however, as the Cherry and White had trouble in the first half. The Temple offense couldn’t find the back of the net, as the stout Siena defense played exceptionally well, coach Dave MacWilliams said.
“It was a defensive battle the first half,” MacWilliams said. “Siena kind of closed all the passing lanes in the center of the field and made it very difficult for us to penetrate.”
Temple had more success in the second half, as junior forward Austin Coly scored his second goal of the season off a pass from senior defender Martin Dell’Arciprete at the 48:24 mark.
“[Dell’Arciprete] got into the attacking zone and served the ball from the end line across, and Coly knocked the ball in and made a pretty difficult shot,” MacWilliams said.
While Coly’s goal would end up being enough for the Owls, sophomore Evan Bransdorfer took a pass from senior midfielder J.T. Noone and drilled it home. The assist was Noone’s sixth of the year and 24th of his career, further increasing his all-time lead in that category.
Junior goalkeeper Bret Mollon made sure that his teammates’ goals were not for naught, as he recorded his third shutout of the season and the 12th of his career. Mollon’s performance this season has been fairly reflective of how the team as a whole has played, MacWilliams said.
“Bret, the last few games, has been great,” MacWilliams said. “The first couple games, I think he did well. Then, along with the team, he hit a lull, and then I think he broke out of it the last few games and has played a lot better.”
While the Owls did suffer through a three-game losing streak earlier in the season, the team realized why it lost those games and has grown stronger because of it, MacWilliams said.
“We had one bad weekend where we went down to Virginia and just didn’t play well,” MacWilliams said. “We used that as a learning experience. We’ve actually benefited from those losses.”
Entering the A-10 schedule, MacWilliams said he is happy with his team’s performance but realizes there is still work to be done.
“I feel a lot more comfortable [with the team] than I did two weeks ago,” MacWilliams said. “However, we’ve given up way too many goals for my liking, and that’s something that going into the A-10 that you have to make sure you’re not doing. We’ve only given up one goal in the last three games, and I think that’s a positive we’ve got to continue.”
The Owls play their first three conference games on the road, traveling to Saint Joseph’s, Massachusetts and Rhode Island in the upcoming weeks. Starting the A-10 schedule with three consecutive road games is something that doesn’t sit well with MacWilliams, but he’s not about to use it as an excuse.
“There’s been years where I’ve played five games on the road to start the A-10,” MacWilliams said. “It isn’t really fair. You really need to change the system where you can play one home and one away each week. I think that would be the best thing. But it is what it is, and we have to be able to deal with it.”
Temple’s next challenge comes in the form of the St. Joseph’s Hawks. The Owls will travel across the city on Saturday in both team’s A-10 opener.
Kyle Gauss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.