After allowing a goal in three of their first four games, the Rowan women’s soccer team has been locking down opposing offenses.
Rowan’s defense are currently holding the opposition to an average of just over five shots a game and hasn’t allowed a goal since Sept. 10, an eight-game scoreless streak.
With the Profs’ defense stepping up just in time for their New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) play and late-season games, Head Coach Scott Leacott and sophomore goalie Calista Burke believes that the team’s passion and dedication to the game have led them to this great run.
“They just like to play. They love game day,” Coach Leacott said. “Every time you walk into the locker room and stuff like that, they would play seven days if they could, and that’s a good sign. They enjoy coming out to training, they’re always asking like what are we doing today, and they’re engaged and that’s kind of what you want.”
“We work hard every practice. There really is not a practice that we take off,” Burke said. “And every challenge we’ve faced, we rose to the occasion.”
One of the things that the Profs have improved on is their communication on the back end, and both sophomore back Emma DeMaise and Burke credit to Profs’ communication skills for their recent success on the defensive side of the ball.
“We’ve really been talking and picking up our communication lately and it’s finally coming together,” DeMaise said. “I think Calista’s [Burke] done a great job communicating to us, which tells us where we need to go, and that’s why opponents have had barely any shots.”
“Our defense has gotten really close. We know how to communicate with each other and our positioning has made it really hard for attackers to get through,” Burke added. “It’s definitely a focal point. We all work super hard in practice and I’m talking from the back because I see everything. I think it really unites us.”
The Profs have come together and learned how to play with each other at the right time, and Coach Leacott wants the team to understand that their recent defensive surge is a result of that.
“It takes all 11 players to play defense and I think we’ve got them in a good rhythm now of having teams have to break down three different lines and then get to the goalkeeper,” Coach Leacott said. “We’re not just defending with our four backs or two holding midfielders. Everyone is kind of defending and everybody is kind of defending at a high energy, high pace defensive stance.”
One of the more underrated aspects of the Profs’ ability to defend is how much pressure it can take off of their offense. DeMaise believes that it’s helped the team be able to do more offensively, and Coach Leacott compared it to a situation in hockey.
“It definitely allows the offense to trust us more,” DeMaise said. “So then they can do more up top because they don’t really have to worry about the other team scoring on us because we just won’t allow it.”
“In hockey when you have a very good goalkeeper behind you, you can actually take a few more risks going forward and stuff like that,” Coach Leacott added. “So yeah, I think that does help a little bit.”
The Profs will look to keep up this strong defensive showing against their NJAC rival The College of New Jersey Lions on Wednesday, Oct. 19, in front of the home crowd.
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