As the regular season draws to a close for the Rutgers men's soccer team, with the Scarlet Knights (7-6-3, 1-5-1) producing positive results, one of the big themes of the 2019 campaign will be the infusion of young talent under first-year head coach Jim McElderry.
Starting lineups under McElderry usually had five or six freshmen in them, with the team’s performance relying heavily on how the newcomers played.
One of those key freshmen from the get-go was freshman midfielder Jackson Temple. The 18-year-old out of Millville, Pennsylvania, came to Rutgers with a stacked recruiting resume.
Temple made a name for himself from a young age, appearing for the men’s U.S. Under-15 National Team at the start of his high school career. Temple also established himself as a key contributor with the Philadelphia Union Academy, which has produced established MLS players like Brendan Aaronson and Mark McKenzie.
That professional environment paid dividends for Temple, who has started every game of his freshman season and has played the full match in all but three of them. Despite his small size (listed at 5 feet 5 inches), he’s a crafty, technical player that can dribble past defenders and finish clinically if given space in the 18-yard box.
Those qualities made him an appealing option when McElderry was figuring out what lineup to play at the beginning of the year.
“Jackson covers ground, is very quick and can play multiple positions,” McElderry said. “He is the type of player that will fight his way into our team, work tirelessly and can score from midfield.”
It didn’t take long for the freshman to showcase his potential. Temple got his first career goal in just the second game of the season, netting the go-ahead goal in the 77th minute of a 2-1 win against Drexel.
After quickly getting settled into Division I soccer, Temple would join sophomore midfielders Pablo Ávila and Valentino Ambrosio as the key elements of a Knight attack that paved the way to a five-game unbeaten streak at the start of the season.
Another highlight of Temple’s first season on the Banks would come against Binghamton in mid-September, when he got a late winner with a rocket of a volley from the top of the 18-yard box.
The goal demonstrated that Temple wasn’t just a promising future prospect — he could also come up in the clutch and deliver big moments as a freshman.
With just a game left before the Big Ten tournament, Temple has 5 goals to his name as a freshman — good for second on the team behind Ávila (who has 6 goals and two assists).
Although Rutgers is still in the early stages of rebuilding, Temple looks to be a crucial piece to the future of the program.
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