Both soccer teams prepare for NCAA Division III championship tournament

Sophomore back Casey Lubonski looks to go by a defender earlier this year against The College of New Jersey. Both men's and women's soccer teams will head to the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament. Assistant Photo Editor/Miguel Martinez

Heartbreak struck the Rowan men’s soccer team this past weekend as they fell to Rutgers-Newark in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Championship Tournament final by the score of 1-0.

Statistically, the Profs outshot the Scarlet Raiders 21-12 but realistically they could’ve added a handful more to the stat sheet, especially in the second half. Both teams played fantastically on defense, specifically Rutgers-Newark sophomore goalkeeper Andres Madina, who was fending off the 21 Rowan shots that most had great opportunity to find the back of the net. He and Profs goalkeeper Erik Checkur both had five saves apiece with all of Checkur’s coming in the first half of play.

This was the second year in a row that Rowan has fallen in the championship game of the NJAC Tournament, as they fell 3-0 last season to Montclair State University. Fortunately for the team, though, their season doesn’t come to a complete halt. They’ve received a bid to the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament, hosting it for the second consecutive year as well. The team will be welcoming Cabrini University on Saturday at 4 p.m., a team who just won the Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC) title, their second in three years. In 2016, Rowan lost to Tufts University in the second round, 1-0.

The Cavaliers, who have played two less games compared to the Profs, have scored 46 less goals on 271 less shots than Rowan, but have only allowed two more goals defensively on the year, respectively. This game can be related to that of the NJAC Championship game that was played last week. Rutgers-Newark showcased their prolific defense by only allowing 10 goals on the season including the playoffs before and after their championship game against the brown and gold. Cabrini is second in the CSAC in goals allowed and first in average goals given up per game. It’s just another showdown between an astonishing offense and a shutdown defense.

For the women’s team, their NJAC Playoff season was unfortunately cut short after a stunning loss in the first round to Montclair State University, losing 4-2 in penalty kicks. The team did earn an at-large bid to the NCAA DIII Championship Tournament, though, and will travel to Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania to face the University of Scranton in their first round matchup on Saturday at 2 p.m. Scranton earned an automatic bid after becoming champions of the Landmark Conference. Messiah College will host the first and second rounds of the tournament.

Much like the situation for the men’s soccer team, the women’s squad will face a Scranton team that is much lower in the scoring department but is tough on defense. The Royals surrendered just 13 goals in the same amount of games played as Rowan, being 17. Fortunately, for the brown and gold, they gave up just five all season to the back of the net. It was just the trickery that comes with penalty kicks that brought a 0-0 double overtime loss to the team in the NJAC Playoffs. There’s no doubting that the Profs have the firepower to do serious damage on even the best defenses, it’s just the consistency that comes with it. One thing is for sure, though. Both match-ups for the women’s and men’s soccer teams should be thrilling ones to say the least.

For comments/questions about this story, email or tweet @TheWhitOnline.