In the opening round of the 2021 New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Women’s Soccer Championship Tournament, Rowan University defeated Rutgers-Camden 1-0.
These two teams met just five days prior, on Wednesday night, in the Profs’ last regular-season game. The Profs defeated the Scarlet Raptors 3-2, after coming back from a two-goal deficit in the first half. Natalie Pantalone scored a tie-breaking goal for the Profs.
In a win-or-go-home game, the Profs’ offense started strong, scoring in the opening minutes of the game. Senior captain Aidan Sheehan moved from the midfield position to forward and was able to capitalize on a scoring opportunity.
“I actually got moved up to forward today, which I haven’t played before,” Sheehan said. “But Coach [Leacott] always says we’re successful when we’re moving off the ball.”
In the second minute, freshman midfielder Sarah Bergan chipped a ball ahead to the foot of Sheehan, who flicked it over the head of Rutgers-Camden’s keeper, Chloe Beasley, to make the first and only goal of the game.
“I just saw the opportunity to make that run through and then got a perfect ball in from Sarah [Bergan],” Sheehan said. “So it was awesome, and I was just able to tuck it away.”
Sheehan’s score for the team was her ninth this season and a team record for 2021. Bergan tallied her fourth assist of the year, tying her with Cassidy McErlain and Kalin Priest for the top in assists.
Head Coach Scott Leacott praised Sheehan for her leadership on the field, as well as her contributions off the field.
“She’s a great scorer, but she also finds people very well,” Coach Leacott said. “She does a lot of good things on the field, but she’s a great leader off the field.”
At the end of the first half, the Profs took six shots, two of which were on target, including the goal. The Scarlet Raptors took five shots, one of which was on goal. Rowan had three corner kicks in the first half, while Rutgers-Camden didn’t have any corner kick opportunities.
The 1-0 lead early in the first half was all the Profs needed to secure the victory. The Profs’ defense held strong throughout the second half and only allowed Rutgers-Camden to take one shot.
Sheehan notes the strength of the defense and the momentum the Profs had, most notably after getting out to an early lead.
“It was awesome. Obviously, going up one goal early, we kind of had the momentum, and then we fell back into it a little bit,” Sheehan said. “So it was a really defensive game, but I think, overall, we did good locking it in and, obviously, we didn’t let them score. So, that’s the main goal.”
In second-half stats, the Profs took six shots and three corner kicks, while The Scarlet Raptors only took one shot and did not attempt a corner kick again.
Overall, junior goalkeeper Bristol Pizzuto for the Profs tallied two saves in the six shots faced, while Beasley collected two saves in the 12 shots she faced.
“When we play together and we’re communicating, they’re hard to break down,” Leacott said. “We knew exactly what they [Rutgers-Camden] were going to do, and we tried to defend it as best as we can.”
Pizzuto and the Profs recorded their ninth shutout of the season as the Profs moved to 14-4 for the season. Rowan will head up to Montclair to take on Montclair State University on Tuesday in the Semifinals of the NJAC women’s soccer tournament.
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