After concluding the regular season with five-straight wins and finishing with a 10-7 record, the Rowan women’s lacrosse team qualified for the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) playoffs as the second seed. They were granted a home playoff game, which took place in Glassboro this past Wednesday, May 4.
They hosted the third seed, Stockton University, who Rowan had previously defeated on April 26 by a score of 20-13. The result of the playoff game was similar, as Rowan went on to win 18-9.
“I thought we played better in this game than we did the first time we faced them,” Head Coach Lindsay Delaney said. “We were more composed defensively despite them giving us a lot of fouls. I think our attack played well, but by the third quarter, we got into a much better flow. We were off in the first quarter, probably because of anxiousness and nerves, but overall I think we played better this game.”
Rowan bested Stockton in nearly every category and was in control for most of the matchup. They took a 5-2 lead in the first quarter of action, and by halftime, they were up 11-5.
In the second half, they never looked back. They outscored Stockton 7-4 in the final two quarters which led to the 18-9 final.
As a unit, the Profs were able to get off 12 more shot attempts. Stockton did have 21 shots on goal themselves, but senior Reilly Shaup, Rowan’s starting goalkeeper, made 11 saves to keep her opponents from creeping back into the game.
“Reilly [Shaup] definitely had a better game this time around,” Coach Delaney stated. “When she has a better game, it makes me feel much better and confident in what we can do as a team.”
In front of Shaup, Rowan has a red-hot defense that has anchored the team’s recent momentum. In their last six games, they have only given up 6.7 goals per game, almost half the amount of average scores they gave up in the first 11 games of the season (12.3).
Senior defender Gianna Rusk, the reigning NJAC Defensive Player of the Week, credits the team’s unity over the last month of the season for their latest success.
“We always knew what we wanted,” Rusk said. “It was just about putting the pieces together to get there. I feel like we have always had this drive to be on top and play for one another rather than our individual selves, and that is what you have to do to get to a championship.”
After defeating Stockton in a one-and-done first round of the playoffs, Rowan’s next matchup will be the NJAC championship game against and hosted by The College of New Jersey (TCNJ).
TCNJ handed Rowan their most recent loss back on April 12, which was a 21-9 home loss for the Profs.
While TCNJ will have a home-field advantage this time around, Rowan’s core is led by ten seniors. Most of them will be playing with the mindset that this may be the final collegiate game of their careers, so it is expected that those players will be playing with everything they have left in the tank.
Will that factor, plus the team’s recent momentum, help Rowan overcome TCNJ? The game will be played this Sunday, May 8, at 1 p.m.
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