Something was in the air on Thursday night.
The Rowan men’s soccer team was playing under the lights and a full moon, it was the last game of the regular season, and it was senior night. More importantly, it was a must win game that could put the Profs into the New Jersey Athletic Conference tournament playoffs.
In the 98th minute, freshman forward Shane Doherty had his man at the corner of the 18 yard box. He played the ball to the defenders left, ran around his right, and was fouled in the box.
Senior midfielder and captain Shane Kohler, who was honored alongside two other seniors earlier in the night, stood over the ball. He fired to his right, TCNJ’s keeper dove in the opposite direction.
Rowan needed some extra time to handle their business, but the Profs came out victorious after Thursday night’s NJAC game against The College of New Jersey Lions.
“This is a post season game. Anytime you end somebody’s career, it’s a post season game, and that’s what we did today,” Rowan head coach Scott Baker said. “They’re a great team, they have great players, and they have great seniors. It’s never going to be easy in this situation so the win is huge.”
The Profs came out firing, registering a shot in the first 30 seconds of play, and totaling 10 in the first half alone to TCNJ’s 1. Despite this, the game remained scoreless at the half.
In the 51st minute the Lions drew first blood when Nick Sample found the back of the net.
As time winded down, Rowan’s chances at the playoffs looked slim and it seemed that TCNJ would win their third straight against the brown and gold.
Then in the 88th minute, freshman forward Derick Carpio scored the biggest goal of his young Rowan career.
“It was pretty big. We were going crazy,” Carpio said. “By far it’s the biggest goal of the season for me. It’s the last game, two minutes left in the game, and it put us in overtime.”
At the end of regulation, the game was tied 1-1 and overtime was needed.
That’s when Doherty and Kohler stepped up and made plays when the team needed them.
“It’s unbelievable. You can’t make that stuff up,” Kohler said through a smile. “That’s why I stayed for the extra fifth year. That’s why I came here, big games and big moments like this. I’m just grateful that we got the opportunity and I was able to take it for us.”
“It’s the team morale, it’s the hard work, it’s the belief in the team, it’s the mindset that we’re going to go for the win where we could easily go for a tie,” Baker said. “This team is dedicated to going further than any team that has in a long time and that’s what we’re going to do.”
The win positions Rowan as the fourth seed in the NJAC Tournament, with a game against Kean University slated for Halloween night. The Profs beat Kean 2-1 earlier in the season.
“For the younger guys it’s an awesome, great experience. Finally being in one of these big time games and getting the win,” Kohler said. “For me, I’ve been in these types of games, that’s why you’ve got to raise the level up. That’s why I wanted to take the PK at the end.”