The Owls were close to making history.
Entering a game against the St. Joseph’s Hawks on Saturday with a 4-0 record, Temple was looking to secure its best start to a season since 1986 when the program won five straight games to open the year. St. Joe’s hasn’t beaten Temple since 2007 and was winless this season headed into the matchup.
The Owls fell short, however, falling to the Hawks in a tightly contested 1-0 game.
Senior midfielder Ryan Bradbury, however, said he believes the team’s solid start to 2013 is still crucial heading into conference play Sept. 28 at Louisville.
“It’s great for us,” Bradbury said. “It’s really important for us to get off on a great start so that we can build some momentum going into conference play.”
“I think it builds confidence,” coach David MacWilliams said. “We need to get knocked down to get back up. Sometimes a loss like this can hurt you and help you.”
Although tying the record would have meant something special as a team, Bradbury said that each game is more important than the record, but it is still nice to be in the record books.
“I think that would be pretty cool [if we had tied the record], but we are taking it one game at a time,” Bradbury said. “We want to make it to the NCAA tournament, so it is very important for us to keep our focus on what’s in front of us.”
MacWilliams said he realizes that it means a lot to the players, but is clearly disappointed that the result did not reflect their record.
“I think it would’ve meant a lot for the guys,” MacWilliams said. “It hasn’t happened since 1986. That was the goal. We are disappointed as a team. We didn’t play with enough emotion. For some reason, St. Joe’s wanted the game more than us. We need to come out with the hunger and fire like the first four games and I didn’t think that happened in [Saturday’s] game.”
Still, every matchup is important – the wins the Owls have garnered before playing St. Joe’s and the wins they strive to gain afterwards.
“All the games matter,” MacWilliams said. “It’s a loss, a tough loss for us. But, obviously we want to win the games. We didn’t do that. We didn’t win. We wanted to keep the streak going so that these non-conference games add up. Because it’s [the American Athletic Conference], a high RPI conference. We could’ve gotten a higher bid if we win these non-conference games.”
“Every win is important, regardless of whether or not it’s against a conference opponent,” Bradbury said. “We want to win every time we take the field.”
There have been many positives during this win streak. Bradbury said that one of them is the hustle from his teammates. He said everyone is working hard and giving their all for the team in the 90 minutes they play, which is one reason they had so much success during the win streak. The other reason, Bradbury said, is the defenders the Owls have. They have only given up one goal in five games, and that is something MacWilliams said he’ll take even if one of those games was a loss.
Still, there is work to be done for the Owls.
“We need to create more chances,” MacWilliams said. “We need more guys scoring goals and create more chances.”
Hoon Jin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.