Last season, #17 ranked Rowan men’s soccer walked off Montclair State University Soccer Park with a bitter taste in their mouths.
They lost 4-3 in the conference semifinal to their rivals and eventual New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) champions, Montclair.
On Saturday night in front of a packed house at Rowan Soccer Stadium, the Brown and Gold avenged that loss with a 4-3 double-overtime win against Montclair. The game-winning dagger was scored by none other than former Montclair player, Matt Hendrickson.
Senior Modou Sowe was confident in Hendrickson scoring the game winning goal.
“I told [him] before the overtime, I just kept going at him, it was like ‘Hey, this is you right here, you’re going to score the winning goal right here,’” Sowe said. “And he did and it’s awesome and I definitely know that it was amazing for him.”
The praise could not be any higher for Hendrickson, with Sowe saying nothing but positive things for his teammate.
“He’s a stud! He’s a savage,” Sowe said.
Head coach Scott Baker believes every opponent is the same, no matter the rivalry nor the circumstances. He knows that every player has a role to play for the team and the approach that the team has.
However, he can only imagine what was on Hendrickson’s mind when he scored the game-winning goal.
“As far as our approach as a team, we need to focus on what we need to do and Matt Hendrickson needs to do the same thing,” Baker said. “But as an afterthought, you score the game-winning goal against your former team… and make it a golden goal, I can only imagine what that would feel like.”
Sowe was one of three players that scored for Rowan in the game. He scored Rowan’s first goal of the game at the 35:52 mark to tie it at 1-1. He is one of Rowan’s three senior captains of a team consisting of mostly freshmen and sophomores.
He knows the responsibilities that come with being a captain and is proud of that role, especially with the responsibility of guiding a young team playing NJAC competition for the first time.
“To be honest, you know as a captain, it’s always a big deal and you know you have your team on your back and as a leader, you got to show that you got what it takes for your teammates to follow you,” Sowe said. “And that is what I did, we were down 1-0 and in my head I told myself, ‘Hey, now you got to do something. Now, the team needs you more than ever.’ And that is what I did. I went up there and got a goal and everyone played a part of it.”
Baker believes the win against Montclair puts them in a good position to be better. And the next game is even more important, especially with their next opponent Stockton University.
“Anytime you win a big game, the next game becomes more important,” Baker said. “[It’s] the mindset of ‘we’ve put ourselves in a good position and now you win another and it’s a better position,’ so Wednesday’s game [against Stockton] becomes that much more important.”
Between Montclair and Stockton, Baker feels that the former has played a higher level and has provided a bigger challenge than Stockton has the past five or six years. Stockton, however, are a closer team and the players from both squads know each other more.
Baker is also aware of games that they should have won in the past against the Ospreys and hopes the narrative changes.
“I think the challenge of beating a team like Montclair, just from the soccer standpoint, is more,” Baker said. “But as we’ve talked about in the past, they’re both super challenging either way. We’ve played Stockton teams that I didn’t think we’re too talented and they beat us and they bring a ton of emotion, a ton of energy, and we have to make sure we match that to make that comparison the same way that Montclair will bring it with their soccer ability, and that makes [that comparison] challenging.”
For Sowe, it’s just another game.
“It’s like Montclair, you go out there and just play,” Sowe said. “I think Stockton is going to defend a lot. They’re probably going to have ten guys in the back and one guy just roaming around in the field but I’m not worried about them, their players, what they have in store. I’m just worried about my team, our team, and the way we are going to play.”
Rowan will conclude their two-game home stand as they host Stockton University on Wednesday Oct. 2 at 7 p.m..
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