Rachel Galante has waited for this one.
Six losses in three years to one opponent have roamed not just her mind, but the minds of all six seniors on the field hockey team.
A true rivalry made its way to Glassboro under the lights.
“Highlighted, big huge letters,” Galante said. “‘TCNJ.’ All caps.”
The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) has been one of if not the most dominant DIII teams in recent years, winning the New Jersey Athletic Conference Championship four years in a row including beating the senior class three times in the playoffs, twice in the semifinal and once in the final back in 2015.
They weren’t hesitant to strike first, creating instant pressure on the Profs defense and scoring just over six minutes into the contest. After that, it was all brown and gold.
The team had eight penalty corners in the first period but couldn’t capitalize, leading many in the crowd to shout and remind Rowan that “It’s OUR house.” The Profs weren’t shy of knocking on that door.
Rowan broke in with their first goal from Galante off a pass from Krystyna Hovell four and a half minutes out of halftime.
“Honestly, I don’t even remember how the first goal felt like,” Galante said. “I can’t even breathe right now I’m so excited.”
It didn’t stop here, as the Profs went on to score two more unanswered goals from Casey Wagner and Julie Johnson, who assisted on the Wagner goal as the brown and gold would hang on to win 3-2. Galante connected with Johnson which couldn’t seem more storybook for the seniors that have been playing side-by-side for two years now.
“We’ve played this offense right next to each other the last two years,” Johnson said. “This year, we’re still connecting on almost all of our corners which is crazy. She assists on almost all of my goals and I assist on a majority of hers.”
Galante didn’t downplay the importance not only of still being undefeated, but to finally get this out of the way.
“Huge deal,” Galante said. “This is our seventh time playing TCNJ in my last four years here. It was the seventh times the charm here. I hope I never have to see them again. If I do, I’ll take it to them again.”
It was Rowan’s first win over TCNJ since 2012, and head coach Michelle Andre knows what this rivalry and history is all about.
“I went here, I understand the history,” Andre said.”I played here and understand the heightened atmosphere. I’ve lived it. I’ve coached it as an assistant and as a head coach, been disappointed on both sides. I knew the importance of this game at this point of the season and I know how the NCAA works and that as a conference and everything, we want it all to come through Rowan.”
Despite being 14-0 going into the game and the history behind it, Johnson found this one being just like any other.
“It feels a little surreal right now. It feels like any other game going into it. When we went down 1-0, I had a really good feeling that we were still going to win, because we’ve been down like that in prior games. Just to feel a different mindset towards TCNJ this year, so we came into the game knowing we were going to win. We stayed extremely positive, which is definitely a good thing within the team which really helped us win. We kept possession almost the whole game and definitely dominated even though the score might not have reflected it. I felt like we were the better team even going into halftime down.”
Rowan heads to Montclair State University for their final NJAC game of the year Saturday at 5 p.m.
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