Temple University men’s soccer senior defender Pierre Cayet loves challenges.
“I’m definitely expecting to have a good season,” Cayet added. “I’m really looking forward to what I’m going to be able to bring to the team and to show that I deserve this award.”
Cayet became the first Owl to win The American Athletic Conference preseason defensive player of the year on Jan. 25, but for him, winning the award comes with a greater challenge and responsibility to be a leader for his teammates this season.
The Owls’ season started on Feb. 6 and they are currently 1-1, with Cayet starting in each of the team’s games.
Cayet is showing up early to practice, running a half marathon in his free time and trying to help the younger players become the best version of themselves by sharing some techniques he’s learned through the years, Cayet said.
The extra running Cayet is doing helped him stay fit during the team’s extended offseason when the season was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cayet is also hoping his teammates will see the hard work he puts in and will do the same, he said.
“I lead by example,” Cayet added. “So I think every day I practice, I try to be the best I can be.”
Head coach Brian Rowland is also hopeful the younger players take note of Cayet’s work ethic because it could “leave a mark” on the program, he said.
“We got a really good young freshman group that I hope takes on his lead,” Rowland added. “That rubs off on the culture of the program and the players in the program, then we’ll be in a much better place.”
Cayet has already had a significant impact on the Owls’ program. He started in all 18 of Temple’s games last season while recording three goals, six shots on goal and one game-winning goal.
He was also named to the All American Athletic Conference second team last season after playing every minute of every game last season.
“He’s a very big piece of the success we’ve had and obviously very well deserving of individual accolades,” Rowland said. “I think he’s one of the best defenders in our league and one of the best defenders period.”
One of Cayet’s goals is to make the NCAA Tournament this year after the team didn’t make it after the 2019 season, along with winning the AAC championship.
The Owls haven’t made an NCAA Tournament appearance since 1985.
Temple’s 2019 season ended when the team lost on Nov. 13, 2019, to Central Florida 5-0 in the second round of the AAC tournament.
“We were very close last year, so now we want to make sure we take care of those little details that can cost us the competition bid,” Cayet said. “We really want to make sure we win the championship, winning the conference. So I think it’s big, but we are ready for it and I think we have the tools for it.”
Sophomore forward Sean Karani also hopes to win the AAC championship this season and believes Cayet winning the preseason defensive player of the year is a step in the right direction, he said.
“The new coaching staff that we have are doing a great job of turning this program around,” Karani added. “It showed when [Cayet] won that award and was selected for that, and now there’s also a lot of great players in our program, and we have high expectations.”
If Temple is going to make it back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 36 years, Cayet will have to play a big part in their success, Rowland said.
“He’s a competitor,” Rowland added. “He’s one of those guys you can count on every game, every practice to play at 110 percent, and be a guy that’s willing to do whatever it takes to win anything, whether it’s a game or a small activity in practice. He’s a winner.”