Brian Rowland’s tenure as the head coach of Temple men’s soccer officially begins tonight with his first game back at a place so significant in his own development as a player his face remains on a permanent plaque in the school’s Hall of Fame.
“It’s going to be a cool experience, see some familiar faces,” Rowland said earlier this month in an interview after a training session. “It will certainly help having some familiarity going in there and it’s a good story getting a game there to start the season off.”
Rowland starred at UMBC from 1999-2003, where he set the single season (11) and career shutouts (25) record while earning all-conference honors his senior season before embarking on a professional career that included stops at Baltimore, Milwaukee and Orlando in indoor soccer and stints with Crystal Palace USA and Toronto Lynx.
The Toronto native was hired by Temple in December after serving as Sasho Cirovski top assistant at Maryland.
“I think he’s one of the best up and coming coaches in the game,” Rowland’s former head coach at UMBC Pete Caringi Jr. said in an interview earlier this week. “It’s like something out of a storybook that he’s coming here for his first game as a head coach.”
Caringi, who is entering his 28th season in Baltimore County, said as a player Rowland demonstrated many of the qualities key to making the transition from playing to coaching.
“The character of the player is important,” Caringi said. “The guy who soaks up as much information and loves the game is the guy who ends up making a good coach. Brian had that as a player. He was a fierce competitor on the field and always very knowledgable about the game.”
While the two head coaches are at opposite ends of their coaching careers, they both enter the 2018 season with a lot of new faces, uncertainty and low expectations.
Temple was picked in the preseason American Athletic poll to finish sixth in the eight-team conference after making the conference tournament a season ago and UMBC fifth in the eight-team America East Conference. Not that either coach even pays notoriously unreliable preseason polls any mind.
Rowland has brought in 17 new players on a squad that lost players who scored 21 of last season’s 26 goals to either graduation or transfer. In addition to the large crop of new players, Rowland brought in an entirely new coaching staff.
“It’s a huge benefit being able to bring in so many new players right away because we’re able to put our stamp on things a little quicker and establish the culture we want to have going forward,” Rowland said.
Returning players like senior captain Hermann Doerner, junior defender Nick Sarver, and junior midfielders Zach Brown, Lukas Fernandes and Matt Trepanier will play a critical role in leading a team that has seen a lot of players come and go over the last several seasons. Doerner is one of just four players who were on the roster in 2015.
Caringi, meanwhile, has nine new faces on his squad after finishing 7-6-5 a year ago, three years removed from advancing all the way to the College Cup.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how our team looks and obviously we want to start things off with a win,” Caringi said. “Normally I don’t get to play against coaches who played for me so it’s going to have a little bit more meaning for both of us.”