Written by: Owen Boyle
On Tuesday, The American Athletic Conference postponed three of their five fall sports. Men’s and women’s soccer along with volleyball have all been moved to the 2021 spring season.
As of now, football and cross country are the only two sports still expecting to play.
The decision stems from the postponement of the respective national championships held by the NCAA. These end-of-season tournaments were pushed to the spring, prompting the AAC and most other conferences to move their seasons back as well.
The men’s soccer team was going to be the first Temple athletic program to play this fall. They were slated to visit USF on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend.
“We all knew in the back of our heads that this was a possibility,” head coach Brian Rowland said during Thursday’s media availability. “But there’s still disappointment, uncertainty, and questions amongst the group.”
The team arrived back on campus three weeks ago and have used that time to rigorously prepare for their upcoming season.
“We have had two really intense weeks of training,” senior defender Mickael Borger said. “We were hoping and wanting to compete, it’s annoying.”
Prior to Temple University’s spring break in February, the soccer team was training every day to be ready for their 2020 spring season. A week after they returned from break, all athletic programs were halted when Temple shut down. The Owls spent the remainder of the semester and most of the summer building team chemistry and fitness through Zoom.
“Like everyone else, we’ve utilized Zoom,” Rowland said. “We used it to continue building our culture, continue to work on relationships and standards in the program, and have the opportunity to just talk as a group.”
“The Zoom meetings helped a lot,” junior midfielder Andres Charles added. “We would all call each other to see how everyone was doing and we also did team workouts online together which helped us become accountable for what we were supposed to do.”
The Owls trained everyday since being back on campus, with their sights set on the opening match in Florida.
“You don’t really see these things coming,” Charles said. “We were working hard in training everyday and keeping our fitness levels up. We felt that we were improving as a team in preseason and really looking forward to competing.”
The group has been shining a positive light on the situation, ever since the announcement on Tuesday afternoon.
Borger said it’s been tough mentally on the entire team but the extra time to train gives them an opportunity to come back even stronger.
Temple athletics and Temple soccer’s number one priority during the global pandemic is player safety.
“The hope is that, by the spring, we know more about the disease and how to treat it,” Rowland said. “So given the timeline and where we are at, I think playing in the spring will be a positive in terms of player safety.”
The Owls have practiced on both days since the announcement and hope to be able to continue practicing and growing as a team.
“We can only control what we can control,” Borger said. “Right now we want to continue working on our soccer, staying fit, and remaining mentally strong. We want to practice with a purpose even if we don’t have any form of competition to play.”
The team remains focused on becoming better and preparing themselves for the spring season.
As of now, there are no restrictions on the team practicing during the fall even after the postponement of their season. The group has a desire to continue to practice and make sure they are ready for the 2021 spring campaign.
“The culture of our team is to push and get better everyday, that is something we stress,” Rowland said. “We are fortunate that we can still practice, knowing that there are some teams who can’t. We are still progressing, we have an exciting team and a great group of guys that have put in hard work and we don’t want to lose that. We will continue to practice and improve until we hear otherwise.”
The NCAA is expected to release a legislation shortly to determine what the spring season will look like, thus giving the Owls more of a sense of how their fall and winter will shape out.