Players swipe Soccer Six honors

After a season in which he captained Temple’s men’s soccer team as a sophomore, defender Robert Sagel earned his second Philadelphia Soccer Six All-Star Team selection at the Soccer Six Banquet on Tuesday night at the University City Sheraton. Midfielders Felipe Liborio and Miguel Polley were also named to the all-rookie team.

Sagel started each game and played every minute for the second consecutive season in 2014.

Liborio, meanwhile, started 17 games, logged the third-most minutes for the Owls and scored a goal in his freshman campaign, while Polley posted a goal and three assists, second to junior midfielder Jared Martinelli, in 16 games as a redshirt freshman.

After a 10-4-4 season in 2013, the team finished with a 2-14-2 record last fall, its worst mark under coach David MacWilliams since the 2006 season (2-14-1).

Two second-half goals doom Owls

After scoring two unanswered tallies in the second half, Connecticut defeated the Owls 3-1 at the Huskies’ Monroe Field on Wednesday night.

Temple (2-11-2), which has one win since Sept. 5, scored its lone goal when sophomore defender Stefan Mueller scored his first goal of the season off a feed from senior midfielder Willie Chalfant to tie the game at one apiece in the 50th minute.

The Huskies (6-6-1) soon scored twice in eight minutes to effectively put the game out of reach, though, the first of which came from sophomore forward Cyle Larin in the 56th minute. Sophomore forward Ethan Vanacore-Decker capped the scoring in the 65th minute.

UConn led the count in shots on target, 8-4, while the Huskies amassed 10 corner kicks on the night, compared to Temple’s three. Owls senior goalie Dan Scheck stopped five shots in net.

With the loss, the Owls dropped their fourth consecutive contest. They’ll play the last game at home of the season when Tulsa pays a visit Saturday at 2 p.m.

Owls working on transition, health ahead of USF

There was one area the men’s soccer team worked on Wednesday afternoon in its preparation for the University of South Florida on Saturday night: the transition game.

“South Florida is a team that’s very good in transition,” coach David MacWilliams said. “We wanted to simulate a session where you’re keeping the ball, and then all of a sudden it’s played down to the other end of the field, and you have to get back behind the ball.”

Defending against a quick reversal of play will be key if the Owls are to win their first road match this fall. One of the key guys who could be back in Temple’s lineup is sophomore defender Stefan Mueller, who has missed the last three matches due to stomach pain.

MacWilliams said Mueller’s presence would greatly help come Saturday.

“We have to see how things go [this week],” MacWilliams said. “But if he’s able to play, it definitely strengthens our team.”

Freshman midfielder Filipe Liborio, who missed Temple’s last match against Cincinnati, was running around with a brace and also looks primed to play down in Florida.

In terms of the two Finnish players, freshmen forwards Olli Tynkkynen and Joonas Jokinen, MacWilliams said that Tynkkynen is closer to 100 percent than Jokinen, but didn’t rule out both of them playing at some capacity against USF.

 No. 22 USF looms

USF, which is currently ranked No. 22 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll, carries a 5-3 overall record, and beat Connecticut 1-0 in an overtime win in its opening American Athletic conference match on Sept. 27.

When it comes to the Bulls, coach David MacWilliams said their tradition and overall quality makes them tough to play.

“They’re very quick and athletic,” MacWilliams said.  “They’re a tough team in transition, a tough team to break down … they’ve made the [NCAA Tournament seven] years in a row, so you’re going up against a lot of history and tradition there.”

The Bulls ended the Owls’ season last year by beating them 1-0 at Ambler in the first round of the American Athletic Conference tournament. MacWilliams said revenge will partially be a factor going into Saturday, but getting a result down in Florida is more important because of their non-conference results.

“Getting beat by them bothered us,” MacWilliams said.  “But I think right now, we’re in a stage where we just want to win games and get results … We just want to be able to play well and get a result down there.”

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Corbett Stadium.

Martinelli and Polley named to conference honor roll

Junior midfielder/forward Jared Martinelli and redshirt freshman forward Miguel Polley were both named to the American Athletic Conference’s weekly honor roll this past week for their performances in a 2-0 victory against Cincinnati Saturday.

Martinelli scored the opening goal of the match in the first 10 minutes, recording his second goal of this season. He last scored in a 2-2 draw at La Salle on Sept. 13.
Polley, who flicked a back heel to Martinelli on that first goal, recorded a second assist when he flicked a ball to redshirt senior Chas Wilson, who calmly finished his chance to give the Owls a two-goal lead at the 48:56 mark during the second half.
The Detroit, Michigan native now has one goal and three assists this fall. Coach David MacWilliams talked about why Polley is able to facilitate so well in the midfield.
“Miguel’s a very talented player,” MacWilliams said. “[He] has that ability where he can slip people and he’s clever on the ball … he knew exactly where Jared was, he flicked it, and Jared did the rest, so it was a great combination.”
Temple travels to Tampa, Florida to face the University of South Florida at 7 p.m. Saturday night.

Injuries plaguing Owls amid early-season struggles

Heading into the conference schedule, the men’s soccer team has numerous injuries on its roster.

Freshman forward Olli Tynkkynen was wearing a boot on his right foot, while freshman forward Joonas Jokinen did some light running around the practice field Friday at Ambler Sports Complex.
Meanwhile, sophomore defender Stefan Mueller has missed the last two games due to stomach pain, while freshman midfielder Felipe Loborio started practice with a brace on his right leg, but then sat out the last hour of practice.
Even with all the problems, Temple assistant athletic trainer Nathan Quebedeaux said most have a shot at playing against Cincinnati.
“We’ll see with Felipe [Liborio], Olli [Tynkkynen] and Joonas [Jokinen],” Quebedeaux said. “We’ll see how they respond with re-conditioning and treatment and we’ll go from there.”
Another player that has not seen action since Sept. 5 against Penn State is redshirt sophomore forward Donovan Fraiser. Coach David MacWilliams said Fraiser had violated “team rules,” but declined to comment further.

Jokinen to miss time with pulled hamstring

Joonas Jokinen will miss seven to 10 days with a pulled hamstring, Temple’s assistant athletic trainer Nathan Quebedeaux said Friday at practice.

The injury occurred Wednesday in Temple’s 1-0 extra-time loss to Fordham when Jokinen booked up the left sideline, and then was clipped from behind by the Rams’ Tommy Garnot, who received a yellow card for the foul.
The freshman forward out of Helsinki, Finland, has scored one goal in five matches this season.
Quebedeaux said that although Temple could send Jokinen out to play without this recovery time, they are taking “precautionary” measures to ensure he is ready once American Athletic conference play starts on Sept. 27 against Cincinnati.
“We’re letting him recover so he can recover and get stronger to prepare for the American style of the game, which is rougher,” Quebedeaux said.

Owls to face Penn State

The men’s soccer team will travel upstate Friday to face off against Penn State, the No. 16 ranked team in the country, per the National Soccer Coaches Association of America coaches poll.

The Nittany Lions won the Big Ten Conference title last season and made it to the third round of NCAA tournament, before falling to New Mexico.  They have started the season with two victories, downing Oakland in their season opener, 1-0, and St. John’s by a tally of 3-0, both of which were wins at home.

Coach David MacWilliams said Penn State is solid defensively, and play in front of senior goalie in Andrew Wolverton, who was the 2013 Big Ten goalkeeper of the year last year.
MacWilliams added that a key going into Friday night will be starting and finishing the game strong.
“We need to make sure the first 10 or 15 minutes we get the butterflies out and are ready to play,” MacWilliams said.  “This year, Penn State has been a team that has scored a lot of goals in the second half … so we’ve got to be sure we’re ready to play 45 minutes the first half and 45 minutes the second half.”
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Jeffrey Field.
Steve Bohnel can be reached at or on Twitter @SteveSportsGuy1.

Heightened expectations surrounding men’s soccer

Last year, men’s soccer exceeded expectations by finishing fourth in the inaugural season of the American Athletic Conference, despite being picked to finish last in an American coaches’ preseason poll.

This fall, coach Dave MacWilliams’ expectations are far greater.

“Our goal is to make the NCAA [tournament],” MacWilliams said.  “I’m going to be very disappointed if we don’t.”

The Owls finished 10-4-4 last season, primarily due to a defense that finished No. 10 in the nation in goals allowed per game (0.67).

Though Temple will lose two of its four regulars on the back line this year, MacWilliams feels that a strong recruiting class, ranked 19th in the nation via, will help fill some of those holes.

“With the recruiting class we have coming in, we feel pretty confident that these guys are going to play well,” MacWilliams said.  “How long will it take for them to meet the standards that we set?  That remains to be seen.”

MacWilliams added that the most concerning factor going into this season will be his team’s youth. 19 members of Temple’s squad are freshmen and sophomores, while the Owls feature just six seniors.

Because of Temple’s success last season, many teams, especially those in the conference, likely won’t take the Owls lightly in 2014.  It’s all part of MacWilliams’ plan for putting his program on the map.

“[Louisville and Connecticut] have a history behind them,” MacWilliams said.  “We didn’t have that history of upper echelon teams, and that’s what we’re trying to build here.”

Men’s soccer to wrap up season at home

The Owls wrap up their regular season game at home against Cincinnati on Saturday.

Temple is undefeated at home having played eight total games while winning six and drawing two in the process. If they are to pull off a victory on Saturday, they would go on to have an undefeated home record for the first time since 1985 when they went 14–1-2, and their lone loss was the NCAA tournament. The Owls would finish their home record with 7–0-2.

The  Owls currently have 10 points in the conference standings, good for fourth, and if they get their third conference win of the season, they could potentially move all the way to second place in the table if Connecticut and Central Florida lose as well.

The Owls have put up good records in the conference recently, not having lost since their first conference game against Louisville.

Meanwhile, Cincinnati is at the bottom of the table with only three points. They have only won one game and lost their other six games. Their last loss came against UConn, but the team was able to win against Louisville in its previous game. The Bearcats had an up and down season so far and will be looking for their second conference win in three games.

Temple will be looking to clinch a Top 4 seed in the American Athletic Conference tournament and a win against Cincinnati on Saturday at 1 p.m. will solidify that.

Men’s soccer looks for second conference win

The Owls will be looking for their second consecutive conference win at Rutgers on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Temple improved in the conference standings after picking up its first conference win last week against Memphis. The Owls now have six points in the conference, landing them in sixth place while having the second best overall record of 8-3-3.

Rutgers, on the other hand, is a point ahead of the Owls with seven, but has a poorer overall record being 5-8-2. Rutgers has a record of 4-4-1 at home this season, but picked up only one win in its last five games: losing three and tying one in the process.

Temple has a record of 2-3-1 this season in their away fixtures. In their last five games, however, the Owls have gone 2-0-3 with one non-conference game during that stretch.