After noticing freshman forward Xavier Rimpel liked to take guys off of the dribble, senior defenseman Spencer Patton pulled him aside throughout Temple University men’s soccer’s 2021 season to help him understand formations and remind him of plays.
“He [Patton] realized that, you know, this kid needs some work,” Rimpel added. “I think after he did that, he knew who he was talking to on the field and off the field to really try and push me.”
Throughout this past season, Patton embodied leadership and chemistry by offering a helping hand to young players on the men’s soccer team as they muddled their way through a disappointing season, where they finished in last place in the American Athletic Conference standings.
Patton transferred from the University of Virginia, where he scored four goals — all of which came during the 2019-20 season — as well as seven shots on goal and nine total points throughout his three seasons.
After transferring, Patton replaced defenders Pierre Cayet, Esteban Suarez and now graduate assistant coach Brandon Johnson, who all left the team after the 2020 season. Cayet, Suarez and Johnson brought the experience and leadership that helped the Owls go to three straight American Athletic Conference postseason tournaments dating back to 2018.
Head coach Brian Rowland hoped Patton would provide a winning mentality to a young roster and fill the team’s need for an experienced player at left back in the lineup, Patton said.
“It was a very clear goal in mind that they need a left back,” Patton added. “I’m a left-footed player that can play anywhere on the left wing, so I think for me, I saw the most opportunity at Temple.”
Patton brings postseason experience and veteran leadership that the Owls are lacking, Johnson said.
“I think it is good to have someone who has experience at a high level come in and show these guys the ropes,” he added.
This past season, Patton appeared in 11 games, including starting in seven. He tallied one goal, one assist and three total points.
Patton has simplified the communication process between the backline and the team overall, said redshirt-sophomore defender Marques Antoine.
“Instead of saying, for example, six, seven, eight words in the run of play he will say one word,” Antoine added. “There was one word he was saying, like ‘red.’ Red means there is a certain part of the field that is open.”
Patton initiated the conversation with Rimpel after noticing his dribbling tendencies with the ball. At first Rimpel noticed the two had different play styles, he said.
“When I first met [Patton] there was a bit of a clash,” Rimpel added. “I’m the type of player who likes to dribble and take guys on and he’s an aggressive defender. That’s kind of how our relationship started, him pushing me, making me play faster, play smarter.”
For Patton, a big part of a winning team is taking time to build chemistry and understand how his teammates play, he said.
“I feel like the relationship part has been building off of the field,” Patton said. “But we need to do more work translating that relationship into the field.”
Going into the next season, Patton believes this team has what it takes to win, he added.
“I believe 100 percent in this team and this program,” Patton said. “I believe in the tactics, I believe in all the individuals on this team man for man can compete with many ACC teams, with many BIG-10 teams, but many teams or other big conferences.”
Following his time at Temple, Patton will attempt to take his game to the pro level.
“I think I have a very good chance of being looked at individually by some professional clubs,” he added.