For three consecutive seasons, the Rowan men’s soccer team has made the NCAA tournament, making it customary that they’ll still be playing when November rolls around.
This 2022 Profs squad is familiar with the expectations laid out ahead of them as most of last year’s roster returns. However, with players like defensive back Aaron Robertson and goalkeeper James Weinberg graduating, there is a need for new faces to set up in their places if they want to repeat past success.
Head Coach Scott Baker knows the best chance they have at generating success is to focus everything they have on the present rather than reminisce about the past or get anxious about the future. So, the team’s focus wasn’t on the colder months of November or December, but instead on how were they going to deal with the southern sun in September.
Rowan traveled to Baltimore, Maryland and San Antonio, Texas to start the 2022 campaign.
The Profs’ season-opening road trip started off in Baltimore against Johns Hopkins University, which they lost 1-0, thanks to a 75th-minute header from Blue Jays Jonathon Cui.
After a disappointing loss that could have gone either way against a 2021 tournament team, Rowan traveled to San Antonio for a pair of games, the first being against Southwestern University. Less than five minutes into the game the Profs found themselves down 0-1 but Chad Yates and company were not fazed.
At the 17:27 mark, Yates found freshman forward Ryan Gale for the equalizer. Then, Yates put the Profs up for good with his own goal 34 minutes in. Thanks to a strong defensive performance in the second half, led by goalkeeper Chay Kaplan’s three saves, Southwestern was held scoreless and Rowan won 2-1.
“Grabbing that win boosted our confidence with our matchup against Trinity next,” Yates said. “We had a win under our belt now and a little momentum on our side. The vibes were good and high and we just went there and took it to them.”
Yates made it clear that the focus was on Trinity University after beating Southwestern, a reminder of how he and his teammates change focus from one opponent to the next never too far ahead.
The final and most anticipated game of the road trip ended in a highly competitive 3-3 draw. Winning is always the preferred outcome, but in this case, the Profs showed that they could compete with both their young and old guys, as well as be resilient against potential postseason teams.
Freshman midfielder Davide Caputo’s first collegiate goal started the first-half fireworks for both teams. Caputo and Wilby Alfred’s first goal of the season paced Rowan versus Trinity’s high-scoring offense, which had three goals themselves.
The second half was the polar opposite of the first. The scoring cooled off for both teams and for a majority of the second half there was no scoring. Down 3-2, senior midfielder Alex Ferrara scored his first collegiate goal tying things up 3-3 in the 77th minute.
The common theme during the road trip was players scoring their first goals at Rowan in big spots. The two freshmen Gale and Caputo have instantly become contributors on the squad and benefit from having veterans like junior forward Alfred leading the way.
“They’re two really good freshmen coming in, being the younger guys we are teaching them the way to go,” Alfred said. ”I think they’re going to help the team a lot towards the end of the season.”
Rowan started the season against three tough teams, including two teams who made the NCAA tournament a season ago and foreshadowed the possibility of November soccer for the Profs.
“All the teams we are playing with, Haverford included, are tournament caliber teams and playing one at home is a lot different than San Antonio,” Head Coach Scott Baker said. “We’re looking forward to that [playing at home] and we’re just taking it one game at a time. We obviously have the games away on the weekend but we’re not looking there. We’re just looking to the next game, everything goes into tomorrow and we’re hoping for a great game and another win.”
For comments/questions about this story tweet @TheWhitSports.