Rowan men’s soccer (5-5-3) fell to No. 13 Montclair State University 3-0, last Saturday, Oct. 8, leaving them still winless in New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) play (0-2-2).
However, Rowan will have two opportunities at home this week to pick up their first NJAC win on Wednesday, Oct. 12, against Rutgers-Camden University and on Saturday, Oct. 15, as they verse Ramapo College.
Despite being a .500 club with only five regular season games remaining, when asked whether expectations for this team had changed, Head Coach Scott Baker had a simple answer.
“No,” Coach Baker said. “We’re the same group that was tying Trinity in a game the last couple of minutes, with Johns Hopkins [and who] beat, shutout and didn’t let a shot up against Lycoming. We’re still that same group, we’ve had really good games and we’ve also had some tough results. Any championship team is going to have to overcome obstacles along the way, we have ones that I didn’t foresee but nothing changes as far as our expectations.”
Last Saturday against Montclair State, Rowan fell behind right from the jump two minutes in on a goal from Redhawk, Amer Lukovic. After Josiah Crawford scored two of his own less than 16 minutes into this contest, the Profs would fall behind 3-0 and never recovered from the early onslaught of Red Hawk goals.
Despite the final score on the scoreboard last Saturday night, Rowan played a much better game than the final tally, only having two fewer shots on goal and held a 9-6 advantage in the corner kicks department.
This has been one of the unfortunate trends this season for men’s soccer as most of their losses have little to do with skill and more to do with failing to capitalize on goal-scoring opportunities.
“We‘ve had so many chances,” said senior Alex Ferrara. “Our problem is we’re not scoring goals, I don’t think it’s about luck, it’s about taking advantage of the opportunities we’re getting. We are outshooting teams, but we’re still not getting the goals we want. So I think that [when] we do have these opportunities to really focus up and put those opportunities in the back of the net.”
Any hopes of returning to the NCAA Division III Men’s Soccer Tournament for the third season in a row rest solely on finishing strong against their remaining NJAC opponents and then winning the NJAC Championship, something they haven’t done since 2003 when Dan Gilmore was coach.
“Our plan is to go in and do our thing. We’ve played what most people would argue are the best teams in the conference and now they’re behind us,” Coach Baker said. “Now it’s still the NJAC, a team like Jersey City crushed us, so anything can happen on any day, but our plan isn’t changing. We’re still the same group and I still feel like we could beat anyone in the country. We’ll prove that or we won’t. My vision for who we are and the level that we could be at doesn’t change heading into these next games. It’s still the same plan.”
With the walls closing in on this season and looking to break out, from here on out, the Profs will be playing with an advantage as a team that has nothing to lose. Having played the three toughest teams in the NJAC already, it would be a mistake for their remaining opponents to think Rowan’s current record has anything to do with the talent on the pitch.
“What I’m most looking forward to is them sleeping on us,” Ferrara said. “These teams coming up are very beatable. We have Ramapo who has only won 1 game so far and Rutgers-Camden who is .500 like us, but most of their wins have been very close. I’m looking forward to two wins in a row to get back in the conference race again.”
Rowan’s next two contests will be in Glassboro, first against Rutgers-Camden and then Ramapo College for the Prof’s sixth conference game of the season.
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