Rowan Men’s Soccer loses first home game of the season

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Johnny Troiano attempts a shot. Troiano scored the only goal for the Profs on Saturday, Oct. 7. - Photo via Rowan Athletics

After losing their third conference game of the season against Kean University on Wednesday, Oct. 4 by a final score of 3-1, the Rowan Men’s Soccer team faced another tough test on Saturday, Oct. 7 against No. 3 ranked Montclair State, the team that they beat in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Championship last season. 

A lot of things went wrong for the Profs as they fell to the Red Hawks by a final score of 4-1. Rowan came into the game winning their last three home games with a +20 goal differential over The City College of New York (CCNY), New Jersey City University (NJCU), and Rutgers-Newark. 

The loss shifts the Profs’ record to 4-3-4 this season. Head Coach Scott Baker reflected on the game and what hasn’t been clicking for the team, who’s gotten outscored 7-2 in their last two games.

“Heading into Wednesday night, we need to have the same approach. We obviously haven’t gotten it done,” Baker said. “We had lapses at the end of halves and at certain points that have cost us big time. This is the third-ranked team in the country, and we outshot them, but we just gotta defend a little bit better.”

The Profs and the Red Hawks were both scoreless with a minute remaining in the first half before the latter capitalized on a free kick from 20 yards out off the leg of defenseman Ian Chesney in the 44th minute. Being down 1-0 coming out of halftime, the Profs were met with another Montclair State goal in the 47th minute, as the Red Hawks’ leading goal scorer Amer Lukovic netted his 18th goal of the season to put Montclair State up 2-0.

Just eight minutes later, Rowan got on the scoreboard in the 55th minute via an unassisted goal by forward Johnny Troiano to cut the Profs’ deficit in half. Following their first goal, the Profs were on the attack, but unfortunately, their shots weren’t converting. The Red Hawks were able to take advantage and add two more goals by midfielder Owen Murphy and midfielder Anthony Viola to lock up the 4-1 victory.

Johnny Troiano talked about the struggles the team has had with scoring goals in the last two games and what needs to happen to turn the tide. 

“It’s a must win game on Wednesday night on the road and we can’t just beat them. We must go for it and walk out decisively as the better team,” Troiano said. “We were beating teams 4-0, 6-0, and now we have let up seven goals in the last two games. We just gotta go out there, try our best, and win the game like we know we can.”

Although Rowan couldn’t get much going offensively, Sergio Sola Garcia offered an optimistic outlook for the team.

“Even though we have lost the last two games, the results have not shown how the team is playing and how we are performing,” Garcia said. “We created chances, but we just weren’t able to put them away. We just have to be able to put them away. We just have to learn from our mistakes and watch the film.”

Despite the limited goal total, the Profs outshot the Red Hawks, as they had ten shots with seven of those being on goal. On the other hand, the Red Hawks had seven shots in total with five being on goal and four of those five getting into the net. Coach Baker touched on having more looks than the Red Hawks and what needs to happen in those spots. 

“The biggest thing is we are losing inside the 18, so when there is a ball inside the 18 and they get there first it usually sets up teams with a very good opportunity,” Baker said. “Unfortunately for us the last two games it has resulted in goals against us. As a team, you have to win the 18 if you want to shut teams out, and we proved with how many shots we got off that we can hold our own.”

The loss places Rowan in fifth place in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) and they are 2-2 against NJAC opponents as they enter the stretch run of the season. Rowan will look to improve their standing against another NJAC opponent on Wednesday, Oct. 11 when they face off against Rutgers-Camden on the road in Camden, NJ.

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