Gabby Dean leads Rowan Women’s Soccer back to the NJAC Championship game

Gabby Dean goes to cross up a defender. Dean scored two goals in the win over NJCU. - Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023. - Photo via Lee Kotzen

In what was a tightly contested contest throughout, the Rowan women’s soccer team took down New Jersey City University (NJCU) by a score of 3-0 in the semifinals of the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) playoffs. The game was a lot closer than their 5-0 victory earlier in the season.

One of the stars of the game was Gabby Dean, who scored the first two goals of the game. This is Dean’s last playoff run with the team since she is graduating this spring.

“That felt so awesome,” Dean said. “It just felt so great to help the team, and being able to put up two tonight felt great.”

Dean’s first goal was in the 15th minute of the game and would remain the only goal up until the 82nd minute.

“The first goal was definitely important,” Dean said. “It allows everyone to calm down. I feel like we always play better when we go up one on the other team.”

Even though they would not score again for a bit after the first goal, head coach Scott Leacott was impressed with the team’s attack in the first half.

“We were extremely dangerous for the first 20 minutes of the game,” Leacott said. “We were almost playing perfectly; passing was great. We generated a lot of opportunities in the first half.”

With the team and offense playing so well, Leacott believes that Dean could have had an even better game.

“With the way we played in the first half and especially Gabby, she could have had three or four goals in that first half,” Leacott said. “She is coming off an injury, so she was just itching to go out there and play again.”

If there was one word to describe Rowan’s game against NJCU, it was “physical.” This was seen throughout the game as there were two yellow cards issued in the contest, one against Profs and the other against the Gothic Knights.

“NJCU always comes out crazy physical against us,” Julianna Giordano said. “I know we are the one seed, but since they come out that crazy, it is always a great game.”

In a moment during the game, Giordano was trying to get a ball from a midfielder on NJCU. As Giordano was playing the ball, she was grabbed by the NJCU defender, which caused Giordano to fall on top of her. At this point, it appeared that heated conversations between the two were taking place, however; the foul was called on Giordano.

“I knew I was playing the ball and she was not,” Giordano said. “It was really annoying because that call always gets called on me.”

Despite this, the Profs’ defense was stout once again. Whenever the Gothic Knights were on the Profs’ side of midfield, the defense had a chance to show out.

“It is really amazing how we have actually started to get more opportunities,” Giordano said. “We have been playing really great together all year. All four of us and Calista [Burke] play with each other and play for each other.”

The team will be looking for a similar game when The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) comes to town on Friday, Nov. 3, for the NJAC Championship game.

“Against TCNJ, it is, of course, gonna be physical, just like last time,” Giordano said. “It is gonna be awesome for us to be home. Being home and having the fans cheer for us really helps.”

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