There might not be any music playing, but the Rowan men’s soccer team is going dancing.
For the first time since 2003 and for the 25th time overall, the team will represent Rowan University in the 2015 NCAA Division III Championship Tournament. The Profs have won the National Title twice before, in 1981 and in 1990.
“We’re super excited. The program hasn’t been in the tournament since 2003,” head coach Scott Baker said. “I’ve been part of the program either directly or indirectly since that time. It’s a big relief as a coach, as an alumni, and as someone who cares about the program. It’s terrific.”
Despite a fourth place finish in the New Jersey Athletic Conference and a 5-1 loss to Montclair State in the second round of the NJAC Tournament, the team finished the season second in the South Atlantic region. The Profs were selected as an at-large team after finishing with a 16-5 record.
“I wouldn’t say there weren’t any doubts, just because it’s up to other people to pick us,” freshman forward Shane Doherty said. “We thought we did enough to get in and we hoped for the best”
Senior midfielder and captain Shane Kohler looked at the team’s performance from different angles to make his judgement.
“When you look at our wins and losses and strength of schedule compared to other teams, it was so hard to leave us out. We had one of the toughest schedules in the country and had a good record based off of that,” Kohler said. “The NJAC was called the toughest conference in the country this year. I was looking at it trying to be unbiased, but I thought we would make it.
Kohler says the team is using their last loss at Montclair State as motivation.
“A lot of the team was sour about how that game went. The fact that we lost in humiliating fashion, everyone wanted to get that taste out of our mouths,” Kohler said. “We want to prove to the country that’s not who we are. It’s huge that we get another life and opportunity. We’re all motivated from the last loss to show that that’s not the team we are.”
Although the majority of the team was in grade school the last time Rowan made the NCAA tournament, Baker, who won a national championship as a player for the Profs in 1990, believes his team will be ready.
“We’ve been preparing all year for the post season,” Baker said. “To be honest it was tougher to prepare for the regular season even though that’s how you get there.”
The brown and gold are slated to play Dickinson College, who finished the season 12-4-3. The Red Devils finished third in their conference with a 5-1-3 record, but fifth in the Mid-Atlantic region.
The Profs have never played the Red Devils and not many of the players know much about them. The two teams only had one common opponent this year, Swarthmore College. While Rowan came out with a 1-0 victory, Dickinson ended the game in a 1-1 tie.
“We really don’t know anything about them and that’s not an insult to them. I’d like to think that we go into this like any other game,” Doherty said. “We just have to play our best, not worry about what they’re bringing and bring it to the other team.”