Preview: Rowan women’s soccer vs. Montclair State in NJAC semifinal

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The team to end No. 23 ranked Rowan women’s soccer’s shutout streak last month returns to Glassboro, this time battling the Profs for a spot in the New Jersey Athletic Conference Championship game.

Rowan, the NJAC’s second seed, is set to face third-seeded Montclair State University in the semifinal round of the conference tournament on Wednesday night. The Redhawks ended a 12-game run where the brown and gold didn’t allow a goal on Oct. 8, but Rowan came out on top, 3-2.

“It’s very difficult to beat a team twice. They’re going to change up a little bit. We’re pretty much going to stay the course unless we have to change,” head coach Scott Leacott said. “We gave up two uncharacteristic goals [the last time]. We’re pretty evenly matched. It comes down to this stage who’s going to work the hardest.”

Even with a bye for the first round earned, the Profs did more this past Saturday than wait around to find out their upcoming matchup. In fact, they still ran through 90 minutes of action via an in-team scrimmage.

“We try to simulate everything the same. We went through practice last week, Thursday was the same thing, Friday was the same thing. We actually scrimmaged within ourselves on Saturday like a game situation,” Leacott said. “But you can never simulate an opponent. You can’t simulate the intensity.”

He’s right, especially as Rowan prepares to deal with a pesky team like Montclair which boasts high levels of athleticism and pressure.

According to the coach, the Redhawks like to pin teams in their zone and do so early. If the backs can handle that, he said, his team should be in good shape.  

“They like to put a lot of pressure on you and keep it on you. We just can’t get rattled,” Leacott said. “There were stages of this year where we got rattled when teams did that against us and we just started clearing balls not trying to keep possession. We’re going to have to keep the majority of the possession. And that’s how you counter their athleticism; make them chase you for a while.”

The Profs haven’t had it easy against the Redhawks as of late. Prior to the team’s tough 3-2 win earlier this season, Rowan had a 0-1-2 record against Montclair the previous three years, including a scoreless tie in 2015. The programs last met in the conference tournament two seasons ago.

It will also be interesting to see how the brown and gold respond following the break Wednesday, coming in off their only loss of the year in the regular-season finale; Rowan had not even trailed in a game prior to the 2-0 loss to The College of New Jersey. Leacott said he thinks the rough spot will actually help his team.

“We faced our first adversity. We got down 1-0, we really didn’t know how to react,” he said. “Now it’s happened against us, so if we face that again, if Montclair happens to put one in on us, we’re not going to react the same way we did against The College of New Jersey.”

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