PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania men’s soccer team returns to Rhodes Field on Sunday, hosting No. 23 Temple at 7 p.m.
The Quakers (0-3-1) are looking for their first win the season, while the Owls enter with a 5-0-1 record to begin 2015.
Sunday’s match is the official beginning of Philadelphia Soccer Six play for the Quakers. Each year, members of the PS6 play two “League Matches” against each other to help determine the city champion. Tuesday’s match at Drexel was not part of Penn’s PS6 rotation and does not count in terms of PS6 standings. Last year, Penn was 2-0 in its PS6 competition, with wins over Temple and Saint Joseph’s.
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Penn is 22-6-6 all-time against Temple. Rudy Fuller is 8-1-1 all-time against the Owls.
Temple is the second ranked opponent for the Quakers in 2015. Penn opened the season with a 0-0 draw against then-No. 7 Washington at Rhodes Field.
Penn has undertaken a challenging slate to begin the season. In addition to No. 7 Washington and Sunday’s tilt with No. 23 Temple, Penn has played American (now ranked No. 21) and Florida International (Receiving 29 votes this week). Up next for Penn will be No. 13 Penn State on Wednesday at Rhodes Field.
The defensive group for the Quakers has been busy, and Penn’s goalkeepers rank No. 16 in the country in saver-per-game at 5.25.
The term “new-look” seems appropriate when discussing the lineup for Penn of late. On Tuesday, Penn had eight new starters in its lineup from the 2014 season, including six freshmen and a sophomore transfer.
Sunday’s opponent, Temple, is in the midst of quite a turnaround from last season. In 2014, the Owls were 2-14-2 and ended the season on an 0-8-1 streak. This year, the Owls have outscored their opponents, 11-3, and have won four in a row to build a 5-0-1 record.
Included in the undefeated start are wins over then-No. 25 Penn State, 2-0, and Villanova , 2-1. Those wins have propelled the Owls into the national rankings for the first time since the 1997 season. Goalkeeper Alex Cagle has been named American Athletics Conference Goalkeeper of the Week for the third consecutive week, while Jorge Gomez-Sanchez was named AAC Offensive Player of the Week after posting four goals and assist last week.
On Wednesday, he added another goal as he connected on the game-winning strike at Villanova. He leads the Owls with seven goals and two assists this season.