Men’s soccer in the midst of race to first place in NJAC, crucial week ahead

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It’s spooky season, which means that along with pumpkin spice lattes and Halloween parties, comes thrills and goosebumps.

The Rowan men’s soccer team looks to take on the latter two, maybe with a latte and party as well if they’re into those things. We didn’t ask.

One thrill that came amidst this year’s spook-fest took place last Saturday against Montclair State University. Although they outshot the Red Hawks, the visitors were able to grab a 1-0 lead at the half. Sophomore midfielder Modou Sowe tied things up at the 48th minute, but an action-packed sequence soon followed. Montclair’s Mike Taranto scored just a minute later, then Rowan’s junior forward Ryan Campbell answered back with a goal of his own 17 seconds later. The Profs secured the win with a goal from junior forward Shane Doherty at the 73-minute mark. It was the captain’s 10th goal of the year.

“This translates into winning and we have to keep that going,” said head coach Scott Baker. “It wasn’t the perfect game, but we’ve had a bunch like that and it’s going to take more like it to go as far as we want. We have to play better, but we’ve got to keep figuring out ways to win, which we have been able to do.”

Rowan picked up a huge win against Rutgers-Camden on Wednesday night, coming out victorious 3-2. Campbell, Doherty and sophomore forward Matt Hendrickson secured goals
in the win. 

Standing at 13-2, 6-0 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference and riding an eight game winning streak, the Profs are entering crunch time in their schedule. Just four games remain in the year, with all of them playing a crucial part in the seeding process for the NJAC Championship Tournament. The brown and gold hold and Rutgers-Newark are neck and neck for the top position in the NJAC. Both powerhouses will meet Saturday night at 7 p.m. in Glassboro in a game that can decide the top-seed.

“It’s 100 percent on us and how we play and not who we are playing,” said Baker. “It sounds simple to say but it is the truth. When we play great, we’re tough to beat and they are going to have to worry about us. If we don’t we are going to have to worry about our opponent.”

Last season, the team finished 17-3-1 and fell to Rutgers-Newark 3-1, who eventually became the regular season champions. In the NJAC Championship Tournament, Rowan was unable to defeat Montclair, giving them an early exit. In the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament, the brown and gold lost to Tufts University in the final with a heartbreaking 1-0 finish. Fortunately for Baker and his crew, this year is no fluke to them.

“I think we are way better tested this year compared to last,” Baker said. “Our character has been tested. We’ve been down so many times this year and we’ve come back… we are trying to build a team that can win a national championship. Obviously, you have to win a lot to do that, but it doesn’t have to be perfect and I feel better about it this year than last year.”

If one thing serves true, it’s that this is a battle-tested and proven Rowan team that has set the sky as their limit. This preseason, Rowan was selected to win the NJAC in the conference’s preseason coaches poll. Now, they have the chance to validate that statement.

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