Jay Vandermark celebrates a goal against Rutger-Newark. Photo/ Rowan Athletics.

Everyone has experienced failure at one point in their lives. Whether it is failing a test, getting fired from a job, watching your bank account slowly dwindling down to zero. Failure is expected in everyone’s lifetime.

In the world of sports, failure is also expected. Getting cut from a team. Going undefeated in the regular season and then losing in the championships. Nobody is perfect. 

What comes with failure is your ability to bounce back.

The University of Alabama head football coach, Nick Saban, who has had his fair share of failures in his professional coaching career, said this about bouncing back from it:

“One thing about championship teams is that they’re resilient. No matter what is thrown at them, no matter how deep the hole, they find a way to bounce back and overcome adversity.”

This has been the story of Rowan men’s soccer this season with their ability to bounce back. And two weekends ago, bouncing back from a loss after trailing, they proved it.

After coming off a 5-0 shutout win against New Jersey City University on Oct. 12, the team suffered a setback as they lost to Rutgers-Camden 2-0 in Camden, New Jersey.

Freshman Jay Vandermark felt that the loss made the team want to fight even harder for the next couple of games.

“That was a tough loss, [Rutgers-Camden] completely dominated us the entire game,” said Vandermark. “We had nothing going the whole game, they were just controlling us [and the flow of the game].”

Coach Scott Baker knows that any team in the conference can win on any given day and from what he saw, Rutgers-Camden wanted to win more.

“Any team can beat any team and [Rutgers-Camden] came into [the game] more focused, more hungry, and it’s tough to beat a team that wants it more than you,” Baker said. “I think we’re a better team but you gotta be the better team that wants it more and be focused and we didn’t and it caught up with us.”

Like any loss that Rowan has suffered, Baker knows that the team has to rebound from it.

The following Saturday, the team went back home to host another Rutgers team, Rutgers-Newark. It wasn’t a good start for them as they were down 2-0 by the 20:22 mark. Ten seconds later, the Profs responded as Vandermark scored the first goal in the game. Then came another goal 64 minutes later by Matt Hendrickson. Then came the game-winning goal at the 87:27 mark by none other than Vandermark.

“As soon as [Rutgers-Newark] scored the second goal, I tried to come as close to everybody as I could and just scream, ‘Boys, we have to fight! We are not losing on our home field,’” Vandermark said.

The biggest takeaway from the comeback win by Baker was heart, a willingness to fight back and refusing to lose and go down.

“I think the guys realized the importance [from being down early] and picked their way up,” Baker said. “It was 2-1 at halftime, we were outshooting them. We had the better of the play, [Rutgers-Newark’s] a good team and they scored. That could happen.”

Rowan has not lost two straight games this season. After a loss to College of Staten Island, they tied against University of Chicago. After a loss to Kean University, they won against New Jersey City University. After losing to Rutgers-Camden, they won against Rutgers-Newark. Their ability to bounce back after losses are a result of being motivated from losing games, especially in games that they should have won.

“The loss definitely gives us more of a push and a fight,” Vandermark said. “We know that if we lose two games in a row, we are running [sprints in practice] big time. Nobody wants that and we all want good results.” 

For Baker, regaining their focus and knowing that the team is great and talented is enough for the team to be able to bounce back from losses.

“It always puts us in a position where we can win any game and we’re going to be in the game,” Baker said. “The games that we’ve lost, there was a parade of shots at the end of the game from us that didn’t go in. Because we’re talented, we’re going to be in those games and we’re going to give ourselves a chance to win so after a loss, naturally, a team becomes a little bit hungrier and in that next game, we usually come up with some result.”

For Vandermark, another loss will set the team back. The need for good results motivates them, especially with the young players wanting to win the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) championship for the seniors.

“A lot of what we do is for the seniors,” Vandermark said. “We want them to get their NJAC [championship] because they haven’t had it in awhile. We definitely want to fight for them and [for] ourselves. Coming off of a loss, I guess just brings more of a drive for us. We can’t [afford] another loss.”

Rowan will be on the road this Saturday, Oct. 26, as they play Ramapo College in Mahwah, New Jersey at 1 p.m.

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