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 Collegesoccernews.com, 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.”