- The 2015 season is a new beginning for Temple men's soccer. The Owls are returning this season with a strong group of upperclassmen and a talented recruiting class to make a statement in the American Athletic Conference. With head coach David MacWilliams
entering his 16th season, the Owls are looking for a winning season and to challenge for highly-regarded league title.
With a week of preseason camp completed, and the team's first scrimmage tomorrow against Lafayette, MacWilliams sees many positive changes on the horizon." I think every session the guys have really got after it, they've really bonded together," said MacWilliams. "We've really preached the brotherhood, the Temple family and playing for one another, and supporting and respecting one another. We've talked about working hard every session on the field and these guys have brought it every session. I couldn't really say that last year, that we had done that, and I think it was indicative of our season last year".
Playing key roles for a turnaround season will be senior Jared Martinelli
and junior Matt Mahoney
. Martinelli is coming off a successful 2014 season where he ranked second on the team in total points, logging two goals and four assists in his 17 starts. He was also named second team all-conference for the second year in a row and looks to make even more of an impact in his final season. Mahoney, who has been named team captain for the 2015 campaign, will be a staple for this year's back line after ranking second in minutes played with 1637 and starting in every match of 2014. "Matt has really done a great job of leading this team in the preseason and the captain's practice" said MacWilliams. "He's a kid who has accepted that role [as captain], accepted the challenge, and has stepped up to it. He's really an extension of the coaching staff".
The 11 juniors and seniors will provide leadership for a large group of underclassmen. Returning with a year of experience will be sophomores Brendon Creed
and Mark Grasela
, both of whom made strong efforts in their freshman seasons. Senior Patrick Lestingi
and redshirt sophomore Alex Cagle
will also both be returning and looking to pick up where graduated goalkeeper, Dan Scheck
, left off. Cagle saw action in two games last season, recording two saves against USF.
Brand new to the Owls this season will be an impressive 15-player recruiting class made up of five transfers and 10 freshmen. This class of recruits is ranked 47th in the nation by College Soccer News, earning a top 50 ranking for the third year in a row.
"I think they're going to have a big impact on us," MacWilliams noted when asked about his large incoming class. "When you have that many players I think you always worry about chemistry and the players bonding together. With the guys having a captain's practice prior to our preseason, I really think that's helped and I think the guys realized that last year we didn't have that. Even though they had a captain's practice it wasn't as cohesive and close knit. There were separations between the class coming in last year and the upperclassmen and I think it's a lot different now."
The Owls lost two key players to graduation after the 2014 season. Dan Scheck
ended his goalkeeping career with the Owls with 16 shutouts, being named second team all-conference and ranking ninth on Temple's all-time career saves list with 198. Scheck also stands third on the all-time list for his career goals against average of 1.03. Fellow graduate, Chas Wilson
, left the Owls after a successful 2014 season. Wilson was the team leader in overall points after recording four goals and one assist.
While finding successful chemistry with a young team, the Owls face a tough schedule, both in and out of the conference. The season begins on the road against Manhattan and Northeastern before the Owls return home to face Penn State on Sept. 4. The Nittany Lions will provide an early challenge, having been ranked 23rd in the NSCAA preseason poll. The Owls will face Philadelphia Soccer Six opponents Villanova, Penn and La Salle in three consecutive matches before opening up conference play on the road against Cincinnati on Sept. 26. USF, Memphis, UConn, and Cincinnati will be the conference matches at home and regular season conference play will conclude on Oct. 31 on the road against SMU.
"The key for us is making sure that we're playing well at the beginning of the year and really come out of the gate fast," said MacWilliams. "All the games are going to be a challenge for us and we are looking forward to it".
"It's a new beginning and I think that's what we are excited about and looking forward to," MacWilliams added. "We're trying to put the past behind us, learn from it, not dwell on it, and move forward".