Buzzer beaters are not common in the game of soccer, but all you need to know for this story is one name: Jake Connors. With two seconds left in double overtime tied at zero, Connors rebounded off a cross and sent the ball into the net as time expired from the right side to beat Stockton University on Wednesday night. Game over.
The team claimed the top seed in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) last week with a big 8-2 win against The College of New Jersey (TCNJ).
The story going into this one was the difference on both sides of the ball between the two schools. The Profs are a high-scoring team and have been throughout the whole year. Of their 16 regular season wins, seven have come by way of scoring five or more goals. Stockton on the other hand, was in the middle of the NJAC in scoring, but gave up just 22 goals all regular season whilst playing two more games than Rowan.
Before the game, junior forward and captain Shane Doherty spoke about how the team has meshed together to become a force in the conference.
“It’s definitely a confidence thing,” Doherty said. “I feel like all the guys here have that and it builds up throughout the season. There’s a lot of guys coming from all over and that’s all a chemistry thing but I feel like we have a good chemistry here that’s been made throughout the season. We know we have to work hard. No game’s going to be easy, they are going to be battles.”
Doherty hasn’t let the regular season go out of mind, though. Even though this is a new season of sorts, the games that were played before Wednesday night have helped the Profs find that willpower and fight to go out every practice and game to give all they have.
“I think our team, just in general, the spirits are high. Everyone is feeling good. Personally, I feel great. I’m happy to be out here. Of course, every practice I treasure. These are my brothers and I love being out here with them especially on game night. You don’t want it to end, you just give it a little bit extra,” he said.
Head coach Scott Baker said that the work that’s been put in throughout the year can’t go in the rearview mirror.
“We’ve worked on so many things and the guys have come together so well. Everything we did to get us into this position we are in right now worked to a certain level and we need to make sure that we are taking that and moving forward with it and not going to something completely different,” Baker said.
Baker knows how important this postseason is not just for the current team, but to those that have been involved with Rowan soccer for years before. The team has come so close during his first three years coaching the team, and now it looks like his fourth year is a real chance to win it all.
“We haven’t won a conference since 2003 and a National Championship since I played in 1990,” Baker said. “It’s too long. I think the legacy I want to leave is bigger than me. This program, the tradition of this program, the alumni, it’s been too long. We need to win now.”
Rowan will take on Rutgers-Newark at home on Saturday, Nov. 4. Winner is also given an automatic berth to the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.
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