Prior to their first New Jersey Athletic Conference game of the season, Rowan women’s lacrosse head coach Lindsay Delaney said she believed that her team’s defense was better than the opponent’s offense.
That is, as long as they played as a unit.
“If we just start worrying about individuals and not as a unit I don’t think it’s going to work,” Delaney said. “If our defense can play better defensive unit pressure we’ll be good.”
The Rowan defense that allowed 26 shots in a 13-4 loss to then No. 18-ranked St. John Fisher College on Saturday was able to tighten up against Stockton University three days later. By game’s end, the defense cut the amount of allowed shots from the previous contest in half (13).
However, it was the Rowan offense that stole the moment. With 43 seconds left to play, junior attack Rachel Hofbauer scored the game-winning goal — her second of the evening — thus securing the 8-7 victory for the Profs over their NJAC rivals.
The result pushed the Profs to 7-4 on the season. It provided a good bounce-back following their loss to St. John Fisher, a game in which Delaney said the team played “inconsistently,” lacking “good team chemistry.”
“We didn’t really control any facet of the ball, whether offensively, defensively, or in the draw,” she said. “The number of turnovers we had just didn’t make any sense.”
The victory against Stockton gave the brown and gold their first conference win. With only six conference games on the schedule, every win is crucial.
“From this point on it’s going to be really competitive,” Delaney said. “I think sometimes we go in thinking we have this in the bag. I don’t think going into these six games like that is going to be an option for us.”
Senior midfielder Brittany Bollendorf understands the significance of each conference victory. During each of the last two seasons, Rowan entered the NJAC tournament as the No. 3 seed despite finishing with a 4-2 conference record.
The margin of error will be slim once again.
“We have some great competitors in Montclair State, TCNJ and Stockton the past couple of years. They’ve been giving us a challenge,” Bollendorf said. “We just have to go out with our same play no matter who the competition is. The conference can be how we get to the NCAA tournament, so it’s very important.”
She added that the style of play within the NJAC is a little different from the out-of-conference teams, but that for the most part the talent level is the same.
Delaney said that the team’s goals for the remainder of the season do not vary much from those set earlier for its 10 non-conference games. She highlighted the importance of getting and maintaining leads, while also staying disciplined and playing high-intensity defense.
Bollendorf believes that keeping up the pressure and effectiveness of the defense will not be a problem.
“We just have to communicate more and trust each other more during the game,” she said. “Then our defense will be fine and we’ll come out strong. It just matters how we go in together and if we go into the game together.”
Rowan’s next opponent is Montclair State University, who will come to Glassboro for a 1 p.m. matchup on Saturday. The Red Hawks currently hold the same record as the brown and gold, however they dropped their first conference game to TCNJ, 8-6.
Montclair has won its last two regular season matchups against Rowan by one and three-goal margins in 2015 (14-13) and 2014 (14-11), respectively. In NJAC tournament play, however, the Profs have defeated the Red Hawks in two consecutive seasons: 12-11 (2015) and 15-4 (2014).
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