La Salle University's McCarthy Stadium will play host to the first Philly Soccer Six derby match of the year as Temple visits for an exhibition game tonight at 7 p.m.
The Owls beat the Explorers 4-1 in Ambler in their last meeting on September 23. The win extended Temple's unbeaten streak to start the season to eight, a mark that had the Owls ranked No. 17 in the country. It was Temple's best start and highest national ranking since 1985.
The Explorers, 6-10-2 overall last season, haven't beaten the Owls in an official game since they avenged a regular season lost to the Owls with a 2-1 win in the 2011 Atlantic 10 tournament. The two teams played to a 2-2 draw in September 2014 at McCarthy Stadium.
The Owls hit a rough patch after their win over La Salle in late September, losing their first match on the road at Cincinnati before a scoreless draw with Delaware and two consecutive losses to South Florida and UCF. They finished the season 10-7-2 with a 4-0 loss in the American Athletic quarterfinals to UConn.
Four seniors on that team have moved on, including former Union Academy midfielder Jared Martinelli, but their leading goal-scorer, Spanish playmaker Jorge Gomez Sanchez, will be back for one more season after scoring 13 goals in his first year with the team. Standout freshman Belal Mohamed, rising senior Justin Stoddart, rising junior Dinho Zwane and defenders Matt Mahoney and Carlos Moros Garcia are also back. Union Academy alumnus Nick Jachwak, who didn't play during his freshman year, is no longer on the team.
La Salle lost senior leader and former Union Academy player Joe Farrell, who signed in the offseason with Rochester Rhinos in the USL, leading goal-scorer Andrew Connors and three other seniors from last year's team.
Union Academy alums Cameron Keys, a goalkeeper, and Garrett Keys, a defender/midfielder will be looking to solidify starting positions in the squad ahead of their second season. Cameron kept clean sheets in three of the five games he started in the fall and Garrett made 12 starts and 13 appearances in his first season.
Friday night's game is the second match day for both teams in their spring exhibition schedule. La Salle hosted Saint Peter's last Friday and Temple played a double-header against NJIT and Harcum Junior College on March 26.