Rowan men’s soccer continued their play in New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) competition against their rival Stockton University last Wednesday, Oct. 2.
Coach Scott Baker has said in the past that they have lost to Stockton in games that they felt they should have won.
The Profs would end up not letting another opportunity slip away as they shut out Stockton 2-0 in front of their home crowd.
Sophomore James Weinberg, who transferred to Rowan from Monmouth University, recorded five saves in the win, his third shutout of the season.
“I felt right from the get go,” Weinberg said, “I had control of my box and of my defense. [The defense] were listening in the warmup when I was talking to them, they just felt focused. They trusted my feet, I was pinning the ball, it just…felt right.”
Baker was quick to praise Weinberg for his level of play this season and has said that he is one of the big reasons why Rowan is where they are at this season.
“That night, [Weinberg] just made some big saves and comes out and if you’re not watching close, you might miss it but he’s made that one save that we’ve needed to even win a game like [the one against Stockton] because there were a couple close chances that Stockton had and obviously the win before that in double overtime against Montclair, he came up big,” Baker said. “But there’s every game that he’s made that one or two saves that we’ve needed to get that win and sometimes, it’s just been a tie and unfortunately, a few losses as well but to his credit, he’s a big reason we’re at where we’re at now.”
Baker, however, felt that Stockton’s level of play was lower than he expected in the game.
“We played well,” Baker said. “Their level was lower more so than we played great. It’s a very big win and any win in the conference is big but I would say that night, walking off the field, I was more unimpressed with their level than impressed with our level.”
Things took a different turn the following Saturday night, as they were upset by Kean University on the road with a score of 2-1. That loss was Rowan’s first of the season in an NJAC play and dropped to 6-2-3 on the season.
There were conditions prior to the game, such as traffic, that left the team in standstill for nearly three hours. That cut their warmup in half and the field at Kean was something that the team was not used to as it was a small grass field as compared to a big turf field that Rowan is used to playing on.
Weinberg, however, refuses to use those conditions as an excuse as to why they lost to Kean.
“At the end of the day, I don’t think we played our best soccer,” Weinberg said. “I think we let those conditions get to our head.”
Weinberg also believes that this loss can be used as a learning experience and become a better team going forward.
“It’s something we learn from, you know [the team] is super young,” Weinberg said. “I think we see [Kean] again, we won’t let that happen again.”
Compared to the Montclair game, Baker felt that their mindset against Kean was wrong and looked past them, which ended up backfiring on them.
“When you [look past them], you end up disappointed, you end up losing,” Baker said. “Obviously, the guys that day worked hard and they did the best they can that day but their mindset wasn’t as focused. They didn’t have that laser focus they had against Montclair, that they had against Stockton and in [the NJAC], it takes [that focus] every single game and if you let up a little bit, you’re in trouble.”
With the loss, the team stands at 6-2-3 on the season. They have tied a lot so far and have kept themselves in all of their games. Although the two losses against the College of Staten Island and Kean were tough to swallow, they only lost those games by one goal.
Could the team be on the cusp of being something great?
“Yeah, for sure!” Baker said. “Our talent’s there and since day one, we’ve talked about us being able to beat the best teams in the country and if you’re one of those teams that can truly beat anybody in the country and we’ve proved that [against North Park University], if we have the discipline and tenacity, that focus the whole way through, yeah there’s terrific things going for us but that’s a big if. We need to make sure we do [keep that discipline, tenacity, and focus]. It doesn’t just come.”
Weinberg is aware of how young the Rowan team is and that the ties were not because of luck, but rather from silly mistakes. That being said, he feels that this team can be dangerous with five games remaining in the season.
“I think we know it,” Weinberg said. “Everybody knows, too, that we’re super young. We have a lot of freshmen and new players in our starting lineup this year. The ties, they happen because of silly mistakes, not because we got lucky and one of the ties [was] against the University of Chicago, who at that time was ranked number six in the country, at their place. You know, that’s the solid result and we think we could’ve came away with a win. As for something great is going to happen? Yeah, definitely! I think the NJAC has to watch out and possibly nationally.”
In order to make the jump from good to great, what needs to happen?
“Consistency,” Weinberg said. “Coach actually gets on us [about our consistency], we haven’t strung together, besides the first three games, more than three wins. We’ll have two solid results in a row and come up with a game like Kean and it hurts our morale like ‘what do we do?’, ‘what’s this, what’s that?’ No [one] is yelling at each other, blaming each other which is really good but yeah, if we could learn to win game after game after game, especially in a conference like the NJAC, no one can stop us.”
Baker echoed the same sentiments in regards to maintaining consistency.
“It’s just coming out every night and playing with that tenacity to keep that level as high as our highest is everytime,” Baker said. “When you go out and play some of the best teams in the country and you see that they’re still beating other great teams in the country and you’ve beaten them and you’ve played them at their place and in tough situations, it gives you that confidence. On the other side of it, when you lose, you have to say [that] we beat ourselves in those games and in Kean the last game, we clearly beat ourselves. We’re at a much higher level and we’ve proved that but if we don’t have that consistency, then we’re going to be looked back on as a good team. If we keep that consistency, then we’ll be a great team and we’ll win a championship.”
#22 Rowan will be back home this Saturday as they host New Jersey City University at 7:30 p.m.
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