Temple men’s soccer goalkeeper Eoin Gawronski missed a save as the ball floated over his fingertips in the Owls’ 2-1 double-overtime loss to Villanova last Saturday. He then planted on the ground and realized something was wrong.
Gawronski’s awkward landing had real implications, as the redshirt freshman is out for the season with a fracture in his left foot.
“When I stepped I had a sharp pain in my foot,” Gawronski said. “Then after the game, the swelling went up and it bruised out really fast.”
Gawronski met with the athletic trainer and decided to get an X-ray Monday. A broken bone was discovered in his foot. Gawronski, who totaled 17 saves in the last four games, is expected to need eight to 12 weeks to recover.
The loss of the 5-foot-11 goalkeeper will affect Temple beyond the pitch. It will be about more than his ability to produce scoreless games against ranked opponents. Gawronski’s season-ending injury leaves a leadership void for Temple’s young team.
“[Gawronski] is one of the leaders in the group, he’s one that was here all summer connecting with guys, so he’s earned a lot of respect as a leader,” coach Brian Rowland said. “That doesn’t change with the injury.”
Despite not having a clear starting keeper against No. 18 SMU on Saturday, Rowland is still confident his crew will find new ways to win games.
For Gawronski, whether it’s helping the next goalkeeper develop or keeping the Owls motivated during a tough match, he believes he still has an important role.
“I’m going to stay as positive as I can, it’s going to be a tough journey, mentally and physically,” he said. “But I think I will look back on how well I’ve been doing during the season and look forward to the future. Hopefully I get back as soon as possible to where I was.”
Gawronski has had to adjust to time on the sidelines before. He decided to redshirt his first year on campus and made his first collegiate appearance against South Florida last season, when Rowland took a chance to play the freshman in goal.
He started every game after that and made 29 saves in seven games in the 2020-21 season, and with the NCAA awarding an extra year of eligibility because of COVID-19, Gawronski is eligible for three more seasons with the Owls.
“I think ultimately, that one chance I got was super important for me and I wasn’t gonna let that go,” Gawronski said.
During the summer, Gawronski worked to come back in better shape. He prioritized weightlifting, eating habits, and daily workouts — all while playing for Philadelphia Lone Star F.C.
“I think going there helped me a lot,” Gawronski said. “It was physical and it just helped me get ready for this season.”
Gawronski had an impressive season opener, with a penalty kick save against No. 10-ranked Seton Hall on Aug. 26 that resulted in a scoreless double-overtime tie. He also had the save of the night against Rutgers on Aug. 30, when he stopped an attempted winning goal off a penalty kick.
While Temple will miss those types of performances, Rowland believes Gawronski’s perspective and experience will help the Owls, especially when they play ranked opponents with firing offenses.
“He still has a big bright future here ahead, so we’ll get him recovered,” Rowland said. “We’ll get him back and he will fulfill all the things that we thought he would be on track to do.”