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Temple limits Bethlehem Steel to one goal in friendly loss

Adam Najem’s first-half goal was the only blemish on an otherwise impressive day for the Owls

Matt Ralph

Facing a professional team even in preseason is never an easy task for a college program, but it was one the Temple Owls passed with flying colors on Saturday at Power Training Complex.

With some help from the wind to slow the Steel attack, the Owls proved difficult to break down in the 1-0 loss.

Union rookie Adam Najem had the lone goal in the first half in his first game in a Steel uniform. Along with Najem, Union rookies Aaron Jones, Jack Elliott and Marcus Epps played and veteran Brian Carroll started the match. Anthony Fontana was the lone academy player to play.

Academy players featured heavily in preseason wins over Junior Lone Star and Villanova. That Temple limited arguably the Steel’s strongest lineup - Jamaican international Cory Burke also made his first preseason appearance - should be good news for a program fresh off a 10-6-2 season.

“I thought they were excellent,” Steel head coach Brendan Burke said after the game. “If I was Dave (MacWilliams) I would be very happy with that group especially knowing that he’ll add a few pieces for the fall.”

Defender Mark Grasela (Philadelphia, Pa.) made a number of key interventions for the Owls, including one on Josh Heard in the box that looked identical to a couple plays that have led to goals in the early going. Nick Sarver (York, Pa.) and central defender Brendon Creed also played well and goalkeeper Robin Goetz did what he needed to do to disrupt a few near chances.

Going forward was a different story for an Owls team that lost one of the top goal scorers in the nation in Jorge Gomez Sanchez to the MLS SuperDraft. Right back Matt Mahoney also departed the program and signed last week with Bethlehem but picked up a knock in training and missed out on the chance to face his former squad.

What few chances came were off the counter and the solid two-way play from newcomer Divin Fula Lozolo, an international who transferred in this semester from Division 2 Hawaii Pacific. Forwards George McGee and Lukas Fernandes and midfielder Albert Moreno, who were all freshman last fall, spearheaded the attack while Trevor Babin, Jordan Wix Rauch (Hummelstown, Pa.), Zach Brown and Matt Sullivan (Philadelphia, Pa.) also contributed.

The Owls will have a month off before their next spring match at the Philly Soccer Six event on April 8 at Penn.