Rowan women’s soccer edged out nationally ranked No. 10 Montclair State University 1-0 in New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) play on Rowan’s Senior Day, Saturday, Oct. 8.
The lone goal of the chilly afternoon was netted by senior Nina Carlson, who took the match into her own hands deep into the second half. The unassisted score marked Carlson’s third game-winning goal of the season.
“Honestly, I just knew that we had no other option but to win today,” Carlson said. “It was Senior Day, it’s our home field, I saw half a shot and I just knew I had to take it.”
Carlson weaved through a series of defenders before letting off a booming shot from the left side of the box with ten minutes to play. This was only the second goal to get past the Red Hawks in their last six contests.
Montclair showed a burst of potential to tie the game with two shots that went wide in the waning minutes of the match, but they fell short in the end.
The euphoric final scenes of a jubilant crowd and midfield dogpile were welcomed sights after a sullen end to the first half, in which Rowan didn’t manage a single shot on goal. The Red Hawks had monopolized the first half and spent the bulk of their time hounding Rowan’s goalkeeper Calista Burke, who had two saves. The second frame from start to finish, however, belonged entirely to the rejuvenated Profs.
Rowan outshot Montclair 5-3 in the final 45 minutes and discovered an aggression that was sorely missed in the first half. Scott Leacott, Rowan’s head coach, was none too pleased about his team’s opening half performance.
“I don’t know who that team was in the first half. We were so passive, there was zero passion,” Coach Leacott said. “They [Montclair State] really took it to us in the first half and then at halftime we told them ‘have some pride, have some pride in yourself, have some pride in the program, do the things the right way’… it was basically two different games.”
Carlson, a captain and Rowan’s points leader, shared the same sentiment.
“We knew that that wasn’t our standard of play,” Carlson said. “We knew that we had so much more to offer and we knew that if we played like the way we did in the first half [in the second half], we obviously wouldn’t have won.”
In what might be the defining win of the Profs’ season, Coach Leacott said there are valuable lessons to be taken from their exhibition of resilience.
“You have to realize you’ve gotta keep an even keel going into games. Every game is gonna be tough, every game is gonna be hard, but we closed out this game,” Coach Leacott said. “We learned how to close it out and we have to get a whole game like we played in the second half.”
The Profs, who now sit atop the NJAC, are riding a four-match win streak and have improved to 8-0-2, while the Red Hawks dropped their first match of the season and are now 11-1. Rowan will take on Rutgers-Camden on Wednesday, Oct. 12, when they’ll vie to keep their hot streak alive.
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