What’s better than an unassisted game-winning championship goal in overtime?
On Saturday night, the Rowan field hockey team clinched the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) championship game 1-0 in overtime against Kean University.
The Profs are now 16-2 for the season and on a 14-game winning streak.
Fans shivered in the stands while the nail-biter game unfolded.
“I was like, ‘It’s nothing we haven’t done before.’ … We also have so much depth beyond just the seven that are out there so I was confident in fresh legs… I felt good about when we took the field,” Head Coach Michelle Andre said.
At only 1:43 into overtime, the Profs’ junior midfielder Kristiina Castagnola scored the game-winning and championship-clinching goal, unassisted. Castagnola has 41 points for this season with 17 goals and seven assists.
“I was like ‘If there’s a time to shoot, it’s now’ and it was a hell of a time to shoot,” Castagnola said. “We can get through it, even though it was just like stalemate the whole game, like [a] real midfield game– just knowing that when there’s time that we need to pull through, we can.”
Head Coach Andre credited the Prof’s resiliency and consistency to their victory.
“I think our defense did a heck of a job in recovery and coming back and limiting low-quality shots. Abby [Hainsworth] made some big saves when she had to. I think our side defenders and Molly [Gorczyca]– the four of them really stabilized the backfield cause we sustained an attack in the third and fourth quarter,” Head Coach Andre said.
The first quarter and second quarter established what a defensive-heavy game this was going to be. Throughout the scoreless back and forth from both universities, four shots were taken by four different Profs, three of which were saved by Kean goalie Jenna Fleming.
“They’re such a strong team. They changed what they did the last time we saw them. They were a little different from the first time around, and we were just able to find our way through that,” Castagnola said.
The second quarter was much the same — lots of back and forth, changing possessions with high intensity from the ladies on the field. The period ended with two saves from Kean’s Fleming and a save from Rowan sophomore goalie Abby Hainsworth, who now has 28 saves for the season.
In the third quarter, Kean saved four of five shots taken by Rowan. Three of the four saves resulted from a scramble at the goal that very well should have been a point from either junior forward Krystina Hovell or freshman forward Julia Patrone, who has scored 18 goals this season.
“We came out so excited, but also the nerves were there… Maybe our excitement was a little too much, but to be honest, I think that was what we needed to be like ‘Alright, we’re still getting in the cage. She’s still getting the ball down here,’” Hovell said “That’s what helped keep our offense more on our side instead of letting them get the ball back.”
After seven total shots, three saves from Rowan and two from Kean, the fourth quarter came to a close at 0-0.
“They just came to play honestly… Athletically, we’ve both got speed. We both got quick skills … They gave us a good competition and I think the outcome showed who was the stronger team,” Hovell said. “We’re obviously going to celebrate the win and enjoy it this weekend, but Monday– it’s a new week, it’s a new day and we’re going for that NCAA trophy.”
The Profs have earned a first-round bye in the NCAA Division III Championship tournament. Rowan will host the second and third round at home on Saturday, Nov. 13. The time is to be announced.
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