Freshman Scores two Late Goals for Rowan Men’s Soccer to Avoid Defeat

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Johnny Troiano brings the ball up field. Troiano scored the final two goals against Kean on Saturday night to tie the game. Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022. - Photo / Dom Francesconi via Rowan Athletics

Saturday, Sept. 24, in Glassboro, Rowan men’s soccer tied Kean University 2-2, kicking off New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) play and bringing their season record to 5-3-2.

It was a disappointing result for a game where the Profs did more to hurt themselves than their opponent. However, they still showed resilience and netted two goals in the last 20 minutes to save the team from the jaws of defeat. 

“We are a great team. We are resilient, we can come back, we can fight, and we can win. It just needs to become a habit and be more consistent or else we’re just going to be saying that and get bounced early [from the season],” Head Coach Scott Baker said. 

On paper, Rowan held the advantage leading Kean in shots 12-6 and shots on goal 7-4, but mistakes and untimely penalties doomed them on Saturday night.

At the thirty-minute mark, Cougar Eric Chickas intercepted a slow rolling pass intended for goalkeeper Chay Kaplan, making the game’s first goal a gimme. Then in the second half after a Rowan foul, Kean extended their lead thanks to a twenty-yard free kick from Santi Alzate.   

With plenty of young new faces on the pitch this season, veteran captain Chad Yates knows it’s all hands on deck when it comes to defense.

“From top to bottom when you get in these close games or any game, defense starts from the strikers; they may be called forwards but the way we play and the system that we want to play is as a whole team,” Yates said. “We need pressure from the strikers, balance from the attacking midfielders, and then the defense and everything else flows from the top. It’s team effort.”

With 18 minutes left trailing 2-0, Johnny Troiano put the team on his back to score two, late-second-half goals and save his team from their fourth loss of the season. 

Troiano was the spark Rowan needed Saturday night, and not only did he display his shooting boot but he played with a notable desire not to lose. 

“It’s just a fight that we didn’t want to lose tonight. We don’t want to lose to any NJAC team, they [Rowan] lost to them [Kean] in the finals last year,” Troiano said. “We knew we can’t go out like that again, so we wanted to do something about that and win tonight but it didn’t happen.”

Sitting at 5-3-2 and 0-0-1 in the conference, this year’s squad has experienced some ups and downs early on in the season due to the elite level of competition they’ve faced and a roster full of freshmen and newcomers. 

“Most of the players on the field are freshmen and new players rather than returners. Anytime you have that, it’s not going to look as good as it could, but once we get our backs to the wall you get to see the best of those players and their talent is great,” Coach Baker said.

The Profs fly north for two NJAC games this week, starting on Wednesday, Sept. 28, against 5-1 New Jersey City University (NJCU) then on Saturday, Oct. 1, against 4-3-2 Rutgers Newark.  

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