Temple men’s soccer set to rebound from disappointing season

The Owls will look to improve upon their disappointing 2021 season with a revived attack unit and focus on transition offense.

Sean Karani, a sophomore forward, goes to kick the ball during the Owls game against Saint Joseph's University at the Temple Sports Complex on April 9. | NICK DAVIS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Following a disappointing 2021 season, Temple University men’s soccer will look to bounce back and become a threat again in the American Athletic Conference. After consecutive years with winning records in 2019 and 2020, Temple finished in last place in the conference in 2021. Without a true scoring threat to win games, the Owls could not find the playmakers with the ability to make true differences up top. 

Temple posted a 1-2-2 record in the 2022 spring season. They lost 2-1 to Rider University, defeated Loyola 1-0, tied Drexel University 0-0, and tied New Jersey Institute of Technology.

The team has its sights set on having a successful season in the conference and improving upon last season’s poor record by focusing on possession and putting balls on target.

“I think obviously, we have a really talented attacking group,” said head coach Brian Rowland. “And you know with that, there’s a few players in our program that were not able to play last year and I think getting those guys back and really getting some time to work with them through the preseason and there’s some real dynamic players on our team. I feel confident that we can generate chances and convert those chances to goals.”

In 16 games last season, with a 2-12-2 record and a 0-10-0 conference mark, the team only scored 14 goals and were shutout in six of their 12 losses. Coach Rowland believes that the forwards and attacking midfielders will have more success this season, though, scoring more goals, Rowland said.

The team now has a few new offensive-minded players that will look to score more goals and avoid being blanked. 

“I do think that this group is one that can compete within our conference,” Rowland said. “A lot of our guys have seen what that looks like in terms of, you know, competing for championships in the AAC, so I think that they know what it takes.”

The team will play 16 regular season matches, meeting both challenging and unfamiliar opponents with four new conference teams in the AAC. The newcomers are Florida International University, Florida Atlantic University, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Temple will open the season on Aug. 25 against Lehigh University, travel to No. 2 Georgetown University on Sep. 2, and face the University of Pennsylvania on Labor Day. Temple also has a four-game home stand from Sep. 5 through Sep. 17.

The Owls added 15 players to the team in their 2022 recruiting class and several more through the transfer portal, highlighted by graduate student defenders Fridtjof Andberg and Elyad Shojaei. 

Redshirt junior goalkeeper and 2022 Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year Eoin Gawronski will also be making his highly-anticipated this season following he suffered a season-ending foot injury last year in the team’s 2-1 loss to Villanova University on Sep. 11.

Before Gawronski went down for the season, he started in each of the first four games last year. He recorded a clean sheet with six saves in the first match of the season at No. 10 Seton Hall and posted another shutout in a draw at Rutgers. Gawronski is believed to be the first goalkeeper in NCAA Division 1 history to save overtime penalty kicks in two straight matches, according to Owlsports.com.

“I’ve been working really hard to get back and hopefully have a strong season and a healthy season and compete and really push myself to the next level,” Gawronski said. “I think for myself and for the defense, the standard is simply keep a clean sheet and really protect the score and keep zeros as best as we can.”

Last season the defense allowed 32 goals, three of which were allowed by Gawronski before he went down for the season. The Owls will look to defend better this season and earn positive results while also recording shutouts by sticking to their marks and scoring on their offensive opportunities. Their transition play from out of the back was a problem last season, but with an emphasis on ball movement their time of possession can lead to more chances on frame.

“I think we’re in a really good place,” Gawronski said. “I think we gained some experience in the back and we’re back healthy, which is good.”

Rowland announced on Aug. 12 that former Temple men’s soccer standout star forward Lukas Fernandes joined the coaching staff as an assistant coach. Fernandes scored 10 goals and added nine assists in his four-year career at Temple. 

Fernandes was honored to be back on Broad Street, ready to help take the program to new heights, according to OwlSports. 

“One of our biggest goals that we’ve been trying to shoot for at least my four years here so far is to get our hands on that AAC trophy,” redshirt-junior Sean Karani said. “In the past couple years, we went to the semis, but that’s not good enough. So we know that we’re good enough that we can get there but we just need to do it.”

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