Rowan soccer finds their groove against Roanoke, start first winning streak of the year

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It’s been one step forward and then a big step back for the Rowan men’s soccer team to start the 2018 season as they stand at 3-2. It’s the team’s worst start since going 2-3 in their first five back in 2014.

However, they have a chance to change that and start their first winning streak of the season when they take on Roanoke College Wednesday at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, Maryland.

Roanoke has gotten off to a 3-1 start, only giving up a lone goal so far. Variety has been their middle name, as all five of their goals on the season have come from five different players. Freshman forward Anthony Zarlenga leads Roanoke with a pair of assists.

Despite the unusual start for the brown and gold, a big positive that head coach Steve Baker has seen from his team is its defense that has only given up three goals in five games, including two clean sheets.

“In our first three games, we didn’t let up a goal in regulation,” Baker said. “Our mindset this year is defending. Last year, we were one of the top scoring teams in the country. This year we are looking to be the best defensive team in the country.”

Seven goals in five games looks solid on paper, but based off of last season and previous years, Baker and the Profs know they will have to put the ball in the back of the net more.

“The biggest improvement we need to make is being more patient within our system,” Baker said. “With that, I believe the goals will come.”

Junior midfielder Kevin Primich has gotten off to a great start for Rowan. He has three goals and an assist, proving to be one goal shy of his stat line from all of last season.

“As a sophomore, I played up front and freshman year I played defense,” Primich said. “I’m playing in the middle of the field now and I think that’s a good spot for me. It feels good and I like being able to control the game from the middle. There’s a lot of guys here I grew up playing with so the chemistry is really good… You add that in with guys I haven’t played with much but have lots of talent, it just raises our level all over the field.”

Expectations for this year can’t get much higher. In the last two seasons, the Profs have only tallied a single loss in the conference, going 34-7-2 overall, but have nothing to showcase for it. 

“We want to be better at the end of the year where it matters the most,” Baker said. “We have started out strong the last couple years, but haven’t ended that way so we need to make sure we finish strong.”

There’s nothing but hunger left for the team that finds themselves on the losing end in the final round of the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Championship game two consecutive years.

“Since I started playing here we haven’t won any titles,” Primich said. “We’ve had really good rankings and been talked about a lot but we haven’t won any titles. This year is a laser focus to win something big.”

The brown and gold caught that winning streak bug they so desperately needed with a 3-0 win over Roanoke.

After a 1-0 lead thanks to Shane Doherty a bit more than 10 minutes into the game, Ryan Campbell scored goals at the 64th minute and another just 24 seconds later. The Profs host their first NJAC game on Saturday against William Paterson University on the turf at 1 p.m. this Saturday.

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