On the heels of their New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Championship loss decided by penalty kicks, the Rowan Men’s Soccer team had a chance to bounce back on Saturday in the first round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III Championship Tournament.
The Profs cashed in on this opportunity, scoring two second-half goals from sophomore forward Jay Vandermark and freshman back Turlough Gartlan to power past the College of Mount Saint Vincent, 2-0.
After the game, Head Coach Scott Baker spoke on the importance of bouncing back from their tough championship loss.
“It feels great,” Coach Baker said. “Unfortunately we did lose in the finals… but that game helped build momentum into today. To get the win today while not having to go to overtime or PK’s [penalty kicks] feels great.”
Throughout the first half, this game was a tightly-knitted contest, with both sides fighting hard for every shot they took and for any inch of separation they could get. The Profs had the opportunity to play with a man-advantage for most of the second half after Mount Saint Vincent’s Alejandro Rodriguez received back-to-back yellow cards at the beginning of the second half.
Coach Baker believes those yellow cards changed the trajectory of the game.
“That definitely shifted the momentum,” Coach Baker said. “These guys are great, but sometimes when the game is a little quiet they’re not at their best. If you wake them up, things change, and I think the cards helped with that. That definitely played in our favor.”
The Profs finally tallied a goal at the 68-minute mark, when Vandermark fired one in off an assist from sophomore forward Chad Yates. The goal marked Vanermark’s fourth of the year, on top of his third game-winner.
“We had just put Chad Yates on the outside so that we could attack down the flanks and serve it in, and he did,” Coach Baker said. “Jay can obviously score goals, and he did on that one. It’s another big goal for him. He’s had a bunch, and today was a big one.”
Vandermark reflected on the critical tie-breaking score.
“It felt fantastic,” Vandermark said. “I finally got my opportunity to get a shot on goal. It’s been a little while since that’s happened, so we’re finally back to it and it’s very exciting.”
The Profs then added an insurance goal at the 72-minute mark when Gartlan perfectly placed a header in the net off a corner kick from Yates.
Rowan headed to their second-round matchup with Christopher Newport University, who emerged victorious 3-0 in their first-round matchup, on Sunday, Nov. 14. The Profs fell to Christopher Newport 1-0 in that matchup.
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