After winning their third straight New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Championship with a 3-0 win over the TCNJ Lions on Nov. 4, Rowan Field Hockey set its sights on the 12-5 Hartwick Hawks, who are coming off their Empire 8 conference Championship win, for the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament.
The Profs got some deja vu, as they continued their dominance with a 5-0 win to mark the team’s fourth straight shutout and fifth straight year with at least one tournament win.
Sidney Pavlishin picked up where she left off in the regular season, as she put the Profs on the board midway through the first quarter with her eighth goal of the year. With three and a half minutes left in the first half, Vanessa DiDonato got past two defenders and had a one-on-one with the goalie. She put her back to the goalie, then turned around and fired it into the back of the cage to extend Rowan’s lead to two entering the half.
“The pass I got from my teammate Cienna [Bosher] was great, she looked not only to the sideline, but she looked at the split passes and she saw me. We made eye contact, so I knew to cut the defender off my back,” DiDonato said. “When I looked up, I did pass the two defenders, I knew to keep pulling right and pull the goalie off their feet. I made the goalie move a little bit, so it got her unbalanced and I flicked it in because I saw that perfect opportunity.”
DiDonato finished the day with two assists in addition to her team-leading 18th goal, but her ability to defend is one that really helped the team out today.
“She’s just such a dynamic player,” head coach Michelle Andre said. “One of the major things she does is defend, and that starts our offense, and I think our offense did a really nice job in transition today.”
The halftime break didn’t slow the Profs down, as Julia Cavicchio recorded her eighth goal of the season after just two minutes of play in the third. The scoring opportunity was set up by a beautiful feed from DiDonato, as she kept the ball in play and maneuvered her way inside to deliver the pass for the strike from Cavicchio from eight yards out.
Ten minutes later, Bosher beat the third-quarter buzzer and recorded her third goal of the season to push the Profs’ lead to four, with a shot taken to the left of the net and just inside the shooting circle. Shortly after in the start of the fourth, Pavlishin scored her second of the game to give the Profs a dominating 5-0 lead.
“The standard has always been there since I was an athlete here,” Andre said. “Being a part of the Rowan program and the NCAA, it’s something special because only 26 teams get to experience it. It’s something that shouldn’t be taken for granted.”
While the offense will capture the attention of most, goalkeeper Mariah Juiliano’s day shouldn’t go unnoticed, as the redshirt freshman recorded her fourth straight shutout, three of which came in elimination games.
“We practice the way we play, I know that I’ve been doing that for the past few weeks knowing that everything rides on one game. One goal can change the entire outcome,” Juiliano said.
The Profs will now head up to Massachusetts for the second round of the tournament, with a game against the No. 10 ranked Tufts University set for Saturday, Nov. 11.
“The next few days are go time, there’s no room for a letdown,” Juiliano said. “You fight for every ball. Just keep on grinding it out until we are done.”