Before the 2015 season had started, Rowan men’s soccer coach Scott Baker mentioned forwards Travis Ward and Shane Doherty as players to watch. The two have played well thus far and at No. 11 ranked Messiah College on Saturday, they truly showed why their coach had confidence in them early on.
Ward and Doherty each notched two goals to lead Rowan to a 4-2 upset victory over the Messiah Falcons. They are now tied for the team lead in goals at four and it was also the second multi-goal game of the season for both players.
“It’s unbelievable, we were working so hard for this,” Ward said. “The opportunity came to us and we took full advantage of it. You couldn’t ask for a better atmosphere.”
This was Rowan’s biggest win at this point in the season.
“It’s a great experience. We came into the game and we visualized beating them,” freshman goalkeeper Kyle Dennis said. “Now it’s a reality and I can’t imagine what’s going to happen next with us.”
For the third consecutive game, Rowan scored in the first 10 minutes. Ward’s shot from 18 yards out gave the Profs the early advantage at the 7:32 mark.
The brown and gold clearly looked to set the tone physically against one of the top teams in the country. As a result five different players—Ward, sophomore Vincent Guzzo, junior Vinny Ignatowicz, Shane Patterson, Marco Fernandes—all were issued yellow cards.
Meanwhile, Rowan would continue what’s made them so successful: scoring early and in bunches. Ward opened the second half with a blast under the crossbar two minutes in and Doherty followed with his scores in the 55th and 63rd minutes.
Messiah didn’t go down easy, though. The 10-time Division III National Champions put home two goals in a 10-minute span, the first goals allowed by Rowan in three games.
“I think the intensity did drop off,” head coach Scott Baker said. “They’ve been the best program in the country for the last 15 years. No matter how good we play, I don’t totally think it was our letdown. They’re still one of the best teams in the country and they’re not going anywhere.”
The late push wasn’t enough however as Rowan picked up its first win against Messiah in team history. Still, Baker took the win with a grain of salt.
“I think it was a great game, we played great,” Baker said. “We obviously lost it there a little bit in the second half and we have stuff to learn. We can’t lose 15 minutes of the game, 20 minutes of the game like we did, but we did enough in the first half to get the win. Obviously it’s a big one on the road.”
Goalkeeper Kyle Dennis faced a tough test for the first time in a while. The freshman made six saves and has some huge stops on scrambles in the box.
“When I walked in here, I treated it like a National Final,” Dennis said. “It actually lived up to that moment.”
The win was the fifth in a row for the Profs, who had a streak of three-straight shutouts going in. Defeating the No. 11 team further legitimized how well the team has played over the last few weeks.
The team returns to Glassboro for a game against Berkeley College (NJ) on Wednesday before opening up conference play against Rutgers-Newark on Saturday.