SportsDesk Spotlight: Men’s Soccer’s Mark Grasela

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As a senior and current captain/leader on Men’s Soccer, Mark Grasela has been able to see his team and himself grow before his very eyes.

“Over the past four years, it’s been crazy. When I first got here, I felt so much pressure as freshman looking at the seniors then. Now, I am that senior, trying to make sure that these freshmen have a path to succeed”

Grasela, a Philadelphia native, enjoys the aspect of being able to play in his hometown.

Courtesy OwlSports

“It’s awesome being able to play for my hometown team. All my friends and family come out to watch my games. A lot of people I grew up with play for Penn and La Salle and it creates a good rivalry to have.”

Starting in the 2015 season, Grasela started to show how valuable of a defender he could be for the Owls. He was a key defender in a back line that only allowed 8 goals at home. In the 2016 season, Grasela appeared and started in all 18 games. He also played a key role in why the Owls only allowed 3 goals all season at home, leading to an unbeaten home record.

The Owls have struggled out of the gate at 2-5-1 and in four of their five losses, they have not recorded a goal. Getting into a defensive stalemates can be, “Very frustrating, puts more pressure on us (the defenders) to not make a mistake. When two defenses are playing strong, first one to make a mistake is the one that ends up losing” says Grasela. Although the Owls are having a hard start, Grasela has confidence in the team’s ability.

“I think we are gonna turn things around. Played well vs Duquesne (4-1win)  have a lot of freshman starting and they are starting to figure it out. Conference play will be big for us.”

Grasela (right) // Credit:

Despite the rough start for the Owls, Grasela has been able to step up and lead the Temple defense. In the first week of play, Mark Grasela was named the Philly Soccer Six Defender of the week.

” It is a good accomplishment. I did not get much recognition my first couple of years. Feels great and to get my first goal and get that kind of recognition from this city”

Grasela, when asked about playing professionally beyond this season, was rather hesitant, “Never really thought about it, but probably not. I’ve seen some really good players during my time at Temple not make it, it’s not easy.”

For now, Grasela and his teammates are focused on getting this season turned around, especially with the emergence of conference play and the current AAC standings.

Owls Fall to UConn Huskies 2-0 in Conference Opener

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After breaking out of their losing streak, the Owls suffered a 2-0 loss to UConn in a physical battle to open up conference play for the season.

The Owls dominated the offensive side of the ball with 14 shots on goal, compared to the 7 shots that the Huskies managed. In the 25th minute, theHuskies opened their scoring with a goal from Abdou Mbacke Thiam, his fifth goal of the season. He received the ball off of a rebound and found an opening over a diving effort from Temple goalie, Alex Cagle. Despite several attempts to score, including 7 shots on goal, the Owls failed to get one past the UConn goalie. Sophomore, Thibault Candia, who has been the Owls main source of offense all season, had 4 shots of his own, with 2 of them being on goal.


The two teams combined for a total of 32 fouls, including 10 of them coming in the first 23 minutes of the game. Yellow cards were issued to both teams, including one to freshman, Albert Moreno.


In the 50th minute of the game, the Owls thought they had tied the game on a goal from freshman, Alan Camacho Soto, but the goal was erased from the scoreboard due to an offsides call from the referee. With that blow of the whistle and the wave of the offsides flag, all of that momentum and energy was gone.


In the 79th minute to put the game away for good, UConn’s, Niko Petridis, scored his first goal of the season to give the Huskies a 2-0 lead. The Owls had four string attempts to try and score at the end of the game, but they ended regulation without getting a ball in the net for the fourth time this season.


Even though Temple dominated the stat sheet, they could not find a way to get the ball in the back of the net, which has been a common theme this season. In 4 of Temple’s 5 losses, they have not scored a goal, which has put a lot of pressure on the defense and goalie, Alex Cagle, to play mistake-free soccer.


Head Coach David MacWilliams was brutally honest after the Owls 2-0 loss, “I believe we played well tonight despite a few mistakes. Our goal being discounted in the beginning of the second half definitely killed our momentum. In a conference game you’ve got to lay everything out on the field and play 120%; I thought we competed out there, but we can’t really afford to make mistakes anymore.”


After falling to 2-5-1, the Owls look to bounce back Wednesday night at 7:30 vs. in-state rival, Penn State at the Temple Athletic Complex.

Slippery Slope for Men’s Soccer Continues

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Temple Men’s Soccer fell to Fairfield 2-0 on Saturday night in a tough, defensive-minded matchup. Both teams were very aware on defense throughout, and that is why neither team could amount to any scoring in the first half. The game was rather even in the first half, as the Owls managed two shots on goal, while the Stags had one shot. The game remained scoreless going into the second half up until the 56th minute mark. Fairfield’s Don Junior-Bobe broke the stalemate to put the Stags up 1-0. After Fairfield’s first goal, they broke the game open and in the second half of the game, and they proceeded to outshoot the Owls five shots to one. The Owls could not get anything going offensively after that.

Fairfield’s defense was up to the task and completely shut down any opportunities that the Owls had to come back. Temple’s stout defense from their backline and terrific goalkeeping from goalie Alex Cagle could only carry them so far as Fairfield’s scoring opportunities and lack thereof for the Owls was too powerful to overcome. Over the course of six games the Owls have only managed to score three goals and have relied heavily on the presence of their defense and Cagle to carry the team. In the 85th minute, Fairfield’s, Ben Wignall scored to make it 2-0 and put the game out of reach for good. This marks three straight losses for the Owls to put the overall team record at 1-4-1. The Owls will look to bounce back from their recent struggles as they have two games this week at home, September 19 vs. Duquesne and September 23 vs. UConn.


Men’s Soccer 2017 Season Preview

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Top Players

With the loss of Jorge Gomez Sanchez, the Owls leading scorer in 2016, the men’s soccer team is turning to Joonas Jokinen, Albert Moreno, Nick Sarver, and Zach Brown to make a real difference for the team. The Owls will also turn to the leadership of their four team captains, Mark Grasela, Alex Cagle, Hermann Doerner, and Brendon Creed to help mesh well with their young talent.

Courtesy OwlSports

Senior, Joonas Jokinen returns as Temple Men’s Soccer’s best player and looking to be their primary goal scorer, with Jorge Gomez Sanchez graduating. In the 2016-2017 season, Jokinen appeared in 14 games, while starting 12 of them. The Finnish native scored 3 goals while leading the team with 6 assists as well.//On defense, Mark Grasela will look to fill the void left by Carlos Moros Garcia and Matt Mahoney, who like Gomez Sanchez, have also gone pro. The Owls will also look for a strong showing again this season from Goalkeeper, Alex Cagle. Cagle was the best keeper in the greater Philadelphia area last season and was honored with the award of Goals Against Average leader at the annual Philadelphia Soccer Six banquet this spring. Cagle will play a key role in the Owls success this season.

Stats from previous season

The Temple Owls were lead in every category last season by Jorge Gomez Sanchez who was recently drafted to the MLS. Jorge Gomez Sanchez was the powerhouse player not only on Temple, but in the entire NCAA. In the 2016 season, the Owls were able to outscore opponents 23-15, and Temple was able to average 1.28 goals per game while competitors were only averaging 0.83 goals per game. The Owls were also able to outshoot opponents 297-151. They also had almost double the amount of assists that their competition had (20-11). Their strong defense shined through as well last year leaving their goalie with only 52 saves while their challengers had 93 saves. Temple also had an advantage over competition  last year with corner kicks and penalties having more than double the amount of corner kicks than their competitors and having less than half the amount of penalties than their competition. Without their star player, the Owls will be looking to other players to keep up the outstanding stats.

Courtesy OwlSports

Schedule Outlook

The Owls will play a total of 17 games this season, 7 of which are American Athletic Conference games. The men’s soccer team will try to redeem themselves against Rider University who they lost to last year 0-2. They will also play crosstown rival Drexel on October 3rd to try and compensate for their loss last year. The Owls also play Penn State University who is always good competition, but Temple did finish with a win against the Nittany Lions last year. Jorge Gomez Sanchez helped pave the way for this team’s success last year, so this season, the Owls will have to continue proving themselves and making a name for Temple men’s soccer in the American Athletic Conference.

Men’s Soccer Fall Short in Overtime in Defensive Stalemate

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PHILADELPHIA- Temple Men’s Soccer fell to 1-2-1 after losing their second game of the season due to the overtime heroics of Rider’s, Clement Bourret, who scored by launching the ball over the Owl’s goalkeeper, Alex Cagle, in the 94th minute of the game.

The Owls played a very physical contest with the Broncs as there were a combined 20 fouls between the two teams, with a yellow card handed out on each side. There was a lot of chirping back and forth after hard fouls and oftentimes during the game, even with a hard foul, the referees let them play on without a whistle.

Temple marginally out played Rider in the first two halves, as the defensive back line shut down any Rider opportunity. Senior defenseman, Mark Grasela, played a huge role in preventing any scoring opportunities from arising. As well as midfielders, Brendon Creed and Divin Fula Luzolo, who both did their part to get back on defense and keep the game in hand.

With the defense stopping anything in sight, they made life easy for the Owls goalkeeper, Alex Cagle. With only two shots on goal and one of those being the only goal of the game, Cagle and the Owls did not have to bat an eye at any Rider opportunity during the first 90 minutes of the game.

With 12 shots and 6 of them on goal, the Owls looked bound to break the defensive stalemate. With 4 minutes left in the first half, Senior forward, Joonas Jokinen was all alone with the goalkeeper and produced a nice shot, which was saved by the Rider goalkeeper, David Pastuna, who had 6 saves of his own and made life impossible for any Owl trying to score.

Sophomore forward, Thibault Candia, manufactured 4 shots in total, with 2 of them being on goal. As the main source of Temple’s scoring opportunities, Candia looked bound to break the game open. 58 minutes into the game, he had a great scoring opportunity but was fouled hard outside the box, and there was no call from the referee, creating a lot of confusion.

Even though the Owls outplayed the Broncs, missed opportunities turned into an early overtime goal for Rider to spoil Temple’s home opener and hand the Owls their second loss of the season.

The Owls will look to rebound next Saturday night, as they take on St. John’s at Belson Stadium in Queens, New York.