Rowan men’s soccer closes out TCNJ, moves onto conference playoffs

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Another week, another series of wins for the Rowan men’s soccer team.

Following a masterful 12-0 dismantling of Brooklyn College on Oct. 17, Rowan hosted New Jersey Athletic Conference opponent Ramapo College on Oct. 22 and defeated the Roadrunners, 3-1.

It was another dominant offensive game for the brown and gold, who took 16 shots compared to just nine for their opponents. Goals were scored by junior midfielder Jake Conners, sophomore forward Shane Doherty and freshman defender Nick Schlageter.

 

The brown and gold then finished the regular season with a 3-1 victory over NJAC rival The College of New Jersey. Now, only the conference and national tournaments remain. 

For Doherty, the goals against TCNJ were his 11th and 12th of the season, breaking the tie he had with fellow forward Travis Ward for the team lead. His scoring results not only from his talent, but also from his non-stop, hustle play. Doherty is all over the place on the field and always finds himself around the ball.

“My teammates set me up real well and give me a lot of chances,” Doherty said after Saturday’s game against Ramapo. “Everyone is working real hard and they put me in positions to score.”

In the past, the Lions gave the Profs some trouble. In 2014, they beat Rowan in the final game of the year, keeping the team out of the playoffs.

Last year, it took a penalty kick goal in overtime by fifth-year senior Shane Kohler to push the Profs past the Lions. The win put the brown and gold in the conference playoffs.

Ironically, Kohler is now an assistant coach with the TCNJ staff.

“They’re very talented, they usually have very smart players, and they just play within their system,” head coach Scott Baker said prior to Wednesday’s win. “They don’t try to play over their heads. Sometimes it seems like it’s going to be easy, but they are very disciplined.”

The brown and gold will now begin to prepare for the conference playoffs. Rowan currently has the second seed and is guaranteed a first-round bye.

Making the tournament is just a stepping stone for a team whose aspirations go beyond the NJAC title, seeking to become national champions for the first time in 16 years.

“We are going game by game and we know that we are going to be in the NJAC tournament,” Baker said. “We also know we are going to be in the NCAA tournament and we are looking every day to get better.”

With a 3-0 record against top-10 teams, the Profs have shown that they should be a favorite to win every game that they play, especially come playoff time when they face high-quality opponents. 

Confidence is certainly not lacking from the squad. They have expected to be in this position from the beginning and have dominated their way through the schedule.

“We expected this,” sophomore goalkeeper Kyle Dennis said. “We look at ourselves as the best team in the country, so there is no pressure whatsoever.”

The team understands what it will take to be champions. And having guidance from Baker, who was on the Rowan 1990 Division III Championship team, definitely helps.

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