After back-to-back shutout wins over Ramapo College and Swarthmore College, Rowan seems to be back to their winning ways.
“Looking back on it, Swarthmore is a great team, they’re top 5 in strength of schedule and play some of the best teams in the country,” head coach Scott Baker said. “They’ve had positive results or 1-0 losses. It was not our prettiest of games, but to get a shut out on the road we were happy.”
Perhaps Rowan’s biggest test of the season comes this Saturday against New Jersey Athletic Conference foe, No. 5 Montclair State.
The Red Hawks are 12-1 overall and have the best conference record at 4-0. The Profs are in sixth place with a 2-1 conference record, but only one game separates them from three other teams.
Rowan will be looking to stifle a Montclair State offense that is averaging close to four goals a game. Freshman defender freshman Will Sjaastad and freshman goalkeeper Kyle Dennis will play key roles in that challenge.
“We’ll play like we did against Messiah and everyone else. Our focus is on us,” Baker said. “If teams do things well and do them well against us, then we aren’t doing what we do well. We’ll do what we’ve been doing all along. It doesn’t change to opponent.
This will be a good challenge for a young Profs team that has blanked their opponents six times this season, tied for the most in the NJAC.
“It’s just the discipline in the back with our defenders,” goalkeeper Kyle Dennis said. “Our communication and the team bond and team work has been perfect so far.”
For Baker, the shutouts are something even more significant.
“It’s really important. We’ve proven we can score and our go to is our attack,” Baker said. “We’ve proven we can defend and that’s a super thing coming into this part of the season knowing we can score and defend.
Rowan has scored the third most goals out of NJAC teams, but they will be going against a defense that allows the second least amount of goals in NJAC play.
“We have several people that have proved they can score, all of our starting forwards, Shane Doherty, Travis Ward, and Jake Conners have proved that. People in the mid field, Shane Kohler and Vinny Ignatowicz have proven they can score,” Baker said. “Blake Czajkowski and Derick Carpio on the bench have all given us big goals and big offense in important times. Going into a game like this, we’ll rely on that.”
Even Sjaastad has gotten into the scoring, tallying three goals from the center back position.
“It feels nice but the coaches always say I need to score more and improve as a player,” Sjaastad said. “With the people around me, helping with heading day in and day out, trying to get better as a player, it helps.”
As for the team, Dennis says they are going into the game with the same mindset they’ve had against every team this season, something that has worked very well to this point.
“We have the same mindset entering every game,” Dennis said. “We treat it like a national final and do the best we can.”