Under the bright lights of Richard Wackar Stadium, surrounded by an electric home crowd and atmosphere, the Rowan field hockey team once again demonstrated Saturday night why they are the number two ranked team in the nation and favorites to repeat as the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) champions.
Offense is pulling their weight with an average score of 4.4 goals per game this season, but with two consecutive shutouts, the focus switches to the other side of the ball.
Senior goalkeeper Morgan Novak is largely responsible for the Brown and Gold outscoring their opponents 22-7 so far.
By allowing only seven goals this season on 46 shots, Novak’s reliable performance has contributed to two straight shutout victories, most recently against Cabrini University and the tough Haverford College team.
A humble Novak credits the team’s defense to her success on the field.
“I feel like we work as a whole unit, most importantly communicating with the defense every game,” Novak said. “Even though my position is just me solely on the cage, I cannot do it without them.”
Humbleness aside, Novak’s athleticism and ability to block shots is a major boost to the squad, giving the offensive and defensive units stability and reassurance, according to head coach Michelle Andre.
“Morgan is a really good goalie,” Andre said. “When you have a goalkeeper like that, if we do defensive mistakes, she keeps us in the game. Her seniority and experience has allowed us to make mistakes without us getting exposed. She makes saves most goalkeepers cannot make.”
With the Profs surrendering just seven goals in the first three games and none in the last two, the defensive unit has vastly improved, allowing just four shots on net.
“The defense has really started to play as a unit and understand positioning, working off of each other,” Andre said. “They have also started to understand communication and go up and out of the circle and be more offensive which has really made a difference.”
With such an intense game as the one on Saturday, pressure is not an element the team encounters, instead it is a learning experience for them.
“They learn how to perform in a bigger stage, especially for our younger players,” Andre said. “It was good for them to learn early on in the season rather than in an important conference game or further in the season.”
As the Brown and Gold draw closer to NJAC play, the Profs host Stevenson University on Wednesday night in search of their sixth straight victory.
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