Despite a loss to Kean University in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Championship, Rowan will host the first and second round of the 2021 NCAA Division III Men’s Soccer playoffs starting on Saturday at 1 p.m. against College of Mount Saint Vincent.
Last Saturday, Nov. 6, in the NJAC Championship game, Rowan and Kean held each other scoreless through regulation and two overtimes meaning the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament would come down to penalty kicks (PKs).
The Prof’s held a 2-1 advantage after the first four kicks, but would squander the lead by missing their next two kicks while the Cougars made good on their last three kicks, winning 4-3 in PKs.
Though immediately after, it felt like a heartbreaker, Head Coach Scott Baker had a brighter perspective on things a few days later.
“It goes down as a tie [The NJAC Championship game] and that tie helped us become the number one team in our region,” Coach Baker said. “In hindsight, it wasn’t necessarily a heartbreaker. It was actually a great thing, and that’s why we’re number one.”
The hard-fought championship effort paid off for Rowan as they finished the regular season and conference playoffs as the number one team of Division III Men’s Soccer Region IV. This means Glassboro will play host for rounds one and two of the playoffs.
Goalkeeper James Weinberg, a senior, thought the quarterfinals match against Stockton would be his last time playing at home. He and his teammates are humbled by the opportunity to play in front of the Prof faithful once again.
“When we beat Stockton in the quarterfinals I wasn’t sure if that was my last home game as a Rowan Prof. I remember walking off the field and looking at the stands thinking, ’Damn this is it.’ But we were blessed enough to finish number one in the region, [securing] the home seed for the first and second rounds,” Weinberg said. “Couldn’t be a better feeling.”
Saturday, Nov. 13, Rowan will host Mount Saint Vincent, a team that has only lost one match this season. The winner of the match will play the winner of another first-round match between Christopher Newport and Eastern Connecticut State that will take place immediately after Rowan’s match.
The second-round match will be held Sunday, Nov. 14, at 3:30 p.m.
The playoffs offer no easy opponents. Rowan endured a brutal late-season schedule that has shaped them into a squad ready to fight it out till the end. The last year Rowan played a full season was in 2019 when they made it to the sweet sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. Time will only tell but this team is primed and ready for a long playoff run like they had in 2019.
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