By traveling out west, coach David MacWilliams said his goal was to give back to his team.
“We try to do it for the juniors and seniors,” MacWilliams said. “It’s just another experience through Temple University.”
The Owls departed on Thursday morning for a weekend trip to California, taking on two members of the Big West Conference in California Poly-Tech and California State Northridge.
For junior goaltender Bobby Rosato and senior striker Cody Calafiore, the West Coast swing has been the highlight of their 2012 soccer season.
“I was looking forward to this ever since we got the schedule,” Rosato said.
“I’ve never been out to the West Coast before,” Calafiore said. “I’ve tried to make the whole trip an experience from the start.”
Traveling to the Golden State does not come without its troubles. Battling the transition between time zones was a common problem among the Owls.
“It’s different because you’re on a plane for five or six hours and then it’s nothing but driving,” MacWilliams said.
“With the time change and the jet lag, the traveling is hard,” Rosato said. “It’s going to be a challenge switching back.”
Despite the sandy beaches and clear blue skies, the Owls didn’t have much time to take in the scenery. With the day off on Saturday, Temple spent the majority of it traveling and practicing.
“It’s a three-and-a-half- hour drive from Cal Poly to Northridge,” MacWilliams said. “By the time we got down there, we checked into the hotel and were able to train for an hour and a half.”
“As soon as we got to [Northridge], we threw our stuff down and started our training session,” Rosato said. “We tried to get everything going and to get everything out of our system.”
MacWilliams said that he was expecting “quality competition” on the West Coast trip. The level of competition was evident from the beginning of the Owls’ Friday night match-up against Cal Poly.
Temple arrived to a packed Alex G. Spanos Stadium and was greeted by a very potent Mustangs squad. Cal Poly junior George Malki set the tempo by notching a goal just seven minutes into the match. Temple redshirt-sophomore forward Chas Wilson responded with a goal of his own in the 25th minute, before the Mustangs ripped off three straight goals to knock off the Owls 4-1.
“We had our legs under us but we played a really strong team,” MacWilliams said. “The teams are very good out here. I wouldn’t be surprised if [Cal Poly] ended up in the Top 20.”
“Cal Poly played a brand of game that you don’t see too much,” Calafiore said. “They’re movement of the ball, they’re passing and the way they attacked us was amazing. It’s a different type of soccer. On the East Coast you see the big, athletic, speedy kind of guys.”
The Owls said that the extensive traveling had an effect on the way the team played this weekend.
“We’re still tired from all the traveling,” Rosato said. “When we finished our game Friday night, to everyone else it was [9 p.m.] but for us it felt like midnight.”
“I think we did everything we needed to do in order to stay fueled for the game,” Calafiore said. “It does affect us, but I think we prepared well enough to the point where I don’t think the flight had anything to do with our performance on the field.”
The trip was not only a special experience for the veterans of the squad, but for the underclassmen as well.
“I mean, it’s California,” freshman Dalton Andrusko said. “What’s there not to be excited about?”
Andrusko, who made his Temple debut against James Madison University on Sept. 2 and scored the game-winner against Manhattan in the home opener, was able to see the positive side in all the traveling.
“It was cool because we got to see the ocean on our drive to Northridge,” Andrusko said.
Although the Owls didn’t return to Temple until early Monday morning, Rosato said making it to class and completing homework wouldn’t be an issue.
“Our team is really good with academics,” Rosato said. “We’re good at staying on top of our things.”
The Owls have had some tough match-ups in the early going of the 2012 season. They played well on opening weekend, in which they had two road games against Virginia Tech and James Madison. They followed that up with a victory against winless Manhattan, a performance that MacWilliams called “lax.” This weekend, they took on two Big West squads.
“We have to be more in sync as a team, with communication and winning the 50/50 balls,” Andrusko said. “We need to have more possessions.”
The Owls host Saint Peter’s on Friday and Howard on Sunday at Ambler Sports Complex.
Tyler Sablich can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @TySablich.