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.
“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.”
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.