The Rowan women’s soccer team brought back their first New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) title since 2016 on Saturday, Nov. 5, after a 2-1 victory over the top-seeded and nationally ranked No. 12 Montclair State University.
From the practice kicks in warm-ups to the final buzzer, it was clear how determined this Profs team was to bring home the trophy.
“We knew that we didn’t want to be done,” senior forward Nina Carlson said. “I think that honestly even before we started warmups, we wanted it so bad and we knew that we would come home champions just because we all wanted it.”
The Profs certainly played like a team that didn’t want to go home, as they jumped out to an early 2-0 first-half lead against the Red Hawks thanks to the heads of Carlson and sophomore back Emma DeMaise. The Profs’ ability to jump out to an early lead was crucial.
“We knew whoever scored first would probably dominate the rest of the game,” Carlson said. “So obviously, scoring first, it had to be us.”
Those two first-half goals allowed the Profs to play more freely in the second half, seemingly taking the weight off their shoulders and putting the NJAC title well within reach.
“The first 20 minutes or so, it was definitely really intense just because it felt like they were coming down our throats. We weren’t connecting passes at all,” DeMaise said. “After those two goals, we were able to calm down, relax and play the way that we know how to play.”
The Profs’ ability to score off of corners helped them this entire postseason, as all of their goals came from corner kicks. While they had set plays to exploit Montclair, they actually ended up abandoning them.
“We knew the way that Montclair was going to set up for defending corners so we had practiced that a little bit, and we did have a set play for a corner, specifically against them,” DeMaise said. “But last second we decided against it and that’s what led to the header goal between me and Nina [Carlson].”
Even though they were up 2-0 at the half, the Profs and Head Coach Scott Leacott knew that they had to keep their foot on the gas if they wanted a chance to beat the Red Hawks again, and more importantly, bring the NJAC Championship trophy back to Glassboro.
“Our whole halftime speech was let’s get another one. If we get another one that could kind of demoralize them,” Coach Leacott said. “Our whole thing was let’s get another one, let’s try to put them away.”
The Profs’ season now continues as they head down to Virginia Beach to take on the Methodist University Monarchs in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament on Saturday, Nov. 12. As they enter the tournament, Coach Leacott and the Profs echo the same mindset — the road doesn’t stop at NJAC champions.
“It’s great, you know they’re always going to remember it. We gotta focus on ‘alright that weekend is over now, let’s move ahead,’ and then after the season you can look back on it,” Coach Leacott said. “But now we have some more soccer ahead so we gotta get that out of their mind and focus on the future a little bit.”
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