The Rowan men’s soccer team may have been picked to finish fifth in the New Jersey Athletic Conference Preseason Coaches Poll, but don’t tell that to second year head coach Scott Baker.
“I think we have the talent to beat anyone,” Baker said. “We’re still a young team, but a National Championship wouldn’t be a surprise.”
In order to do that, however the Profs must build off of a season that saw them get off to an 8-4 start before sputtering down the stretch, dropping five of their final seven contests and missing the playoffs at 10-9. At home, the Profs managed to put together a record of 7-4. However, they struggled to find that same success on the road, compiling a 2-5 record.
Coach Baker attributed the late season collapse to the team’s youth and how worn down the players were late in the season.
“We’re older this season,” he continued. “We have more talent and the players have prepared better. The returners and the freshman have worked all summer by lifting and running.”
Despite another year passing, Rowan will have a young team again, as 22 of the 28 players are freshmen and sophomores.
“Our weakness is definitely our experience at the highest level,” Baker said.
Having a winning record in your first season would be okay with most people, but Baker wants more than that.
When asked how he’s handling things differently in his second season, Coach Baker said that the team is letting things come to them.
“It was a whirlwind the whole last season,” he explained. “This year we’re more settled in.”
The Profs will be looking towards a few key players to help them navigate through a tough 2015 schedule.
Fifth year senior Shane Kohler will be serving as captain this year, after missing all of last season with an injury. Joining him as captain is junior midfielder Vinny Ignatowicz and sophomore midfielder Tyler Logar.
Also returning is sophomore forward Travis Ward. Ward led the Profs with eight goals last year and 18 total points.
In addition to the returning players, Rowan will be hoping that freshmen Will Sjaastad, a defender, and Shane Doherty, a forward, will help carry the load.
Coach Baker mentioned games against ranked opponents Messiah College and St. Lawrence University as key matches. Messiah is currently ranked 3rd while St. Lawrence is 13th, according to NCAA.com’s Top 25 rankings. Rutgers-Newark and Rutgers-Camden also received votes in the poll.
In addition to the out of conference games, Coach Baker stressed that all of the NJAC Conference games were key to a successful season, and that there was “no target at all” on the most important.
The Profs open up the season against Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York on Tuesday, September 1st.