Written by: Owen Boyle
Photo by: Temple Men’s Soccer
The implementation of Eoin Gawronski into the Temple Men’s Soccer starting lineup has changed the trajectory of the program for the better.
It was halftime of the Owls third straight home game of the season. The team was losing 2-1 to USF and on the verge of losing their third consecutive home match.
Transfer goalie Niko Hartmann had started the first four games, including the 2-1 loss to USF. After conceding two “soft” goals, coach Brian Rowland decided to make a change.
“In hindsight, it’s favorable when the decision is good,” said Brian Rowland. “Obviously that was a good decision.”
The Limerick, PA native is a graduate of the Philadelphia Union’s YSC Academy. The Academy is the premier self-directed learning environment in the country for student-athletes.
Gawronski played for the Union Academy from 2015-2018, posting a 14-6-6 record as a sophomore and a 17-4-7 record as a junior. During his senior year, Gawronski played for Continental FC Delco.
“It was a lot of soccer, but also a lot of individual learning which is very similar to the college environment,” said Eoin Gawronski. “YSC prepared me and gave me all the resources for college and soccer.”
Growing up, Gawronski looked at FC Barcelona and Germany goalie Marc-Andre ter Stegen for inspiration.
“I love the way he plays,” said Gawronski. “He was always someone I looked up to and wanted to be like as a kid.”
Gawronski would use his free time in high school to watch Ter Stegen highlights, most notably watching his training sessions.
As a senior in high school, Gawronski was a part of one of YSC’s most talented graduating classes.
Nathan Harriel, Cole Turner, and Thomas Romero are all 2019 graduates who are currently playing professionally in Major League Soccer. Kemali Green was also a member of this class, he is now a teammate of Gawronski at Temple. The most notable graduate was Brenden Aaronson, a member of the U.S. Men’s National Team and midfielder for RB Salzburg in Austria.
As a freshman, Gawronski did not feature in a match for the Owls. He sat behind senior starter Simon Lefebvre who was drafted by DC United in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft.
Coming into the 2020 season, Niko Hartmann won the starting job over Eoin Gawronski. Hartmann was 1-3 as a starter before Gawronski took over, conceding seven goals.
“He [Eoin Gawronski] always had the patience and confidence in himself,” said defender Mickael Borger. “He waited for his opportunity and when he got the chance he took it.”
Gawronski was given his first career start against number two ranked SMU on March 6, 2021. The redshirt freshman made six saves in a 2-0 shutout victory. The win marked the highest-ranked victory in program history.
During the season, Gawronski was named AAC Goalkeeper of the Week twice. Upon season’s end, Gawronski was named to the AAC Second Team All-Conference and the AAC All-Rookie Team, finishing the season with a 4-1-1 record.
Before the 2021 campaign, Gawronski was awarded the AAC Preseason Goalie of the Year.
This is the second consecutive season where an Owl was awarded an AAC Preseason Player of the Year. Pierre Cayet was named the AAC Preseason Defender of the Year before the 2020 campaign.
Gawronski made a statement during the preseason when fans finally returned at full capacity to TSC for the first time since 2019.
The redshirt freshman made a penalty kick save in the second half of the Owls final exhibition game against Saint John’s University.
Temple would open the season with two road games against number 10 ranked Seton Hall and Rutgers.
In the season opener at Seton Hall, the Owls conceded a penalty kick in overtime with the game scoreless. Just like the match against Saint John’s, Gawronski came up big with a point-saving penalty stop.
The same scenario presented itself in the match against Rutgers. The Owls conceded another penalty in a scoreless overtime game. Once again, Gawronski came to the rescue with another crucial point-saving penalty stop.
“It was amazing,” said Borger. “We tied our first two games of the season because of him, without him the start of the season would have been completely different.”
After losing on penalty kicks in the AAC Semifinals, Gawronski spent time in the offseason working on getting more explosive, diving, and practicing penalties.
“I’ve never been great at saving penalties, but have always wanted to be,” said Gawronski. “I’m very confident in my abilities right now.”
Gawronski made three straight penalty kick saves in three consecutive games. Due to his performances in the first two regular-season matches, Gawronski was awarded the College Soccer News Men’s National Player of the Week.
As usual, the awards and attention come with pressure, especially when you are in the conversation of the best collegiate goalie in the country.
“I focus on myself,” said Eoin Gawronski. “I’ve had a lot of recognition which is good for me, but I try not to let the media and posts get to my head.”
The YSC graduate has started the season off strong. He has posted a win and two draws, two shutouts, and has conceded just one goal.
Since making his debut as a starter for the Owls, Gawronski has lost just once. His career regular-season record for the Owls is 5-1-3 with four shutouts.
Brian Rowland has coached his fair share of goalies in his career. Most notably, Zack Steffen, the current backup shot-stopper at Manchester City and USMNT starter.
“He’s able to do everything well,” said Rowland. “He’s good in all areas that you want your keeper to be good at.”
Gawronski’s coaches and teammates marvel over the goalkeeper’s humbleness and the fact that he is never settled with his level of play.
“I’m not settling with where I am,” said Gawronski. “I’ve been putting in the work and want the chance to play professionally at some point in my career.”
Gawronski’s emergence as the Owls star-studded shot-stopper has gained him and the entire Temple Men’s Soccer Program national notoriety.