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Lions earn first-round bye in playoffs

The women’s team celebrates in graduating seniors. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)
The women’s team celebrates in graduating seniors. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

In the last game of the season, in what can be described as an early playoff game, the women’s soccer team was able to get a hard fought 2-0 win over the Rowan Profs on Tuesday, Oct. 28.

Both playoff-bound teams were playing for first round byes. The Lions could either win or tie to secure a bye while the Profs needed the win.

A small ceremony took place before the game to honor the seniors in their last regular season game at the college. These seniors included Kendra Griffith, Korrie Harkins, Tara Fisher, Lori Genovesi, Jordan Downs and Gina Caprara. The players received a bouquet of flowers and a large bag filled with gifts, as their accomplishments were announced over the stadium’s loudspeaker.

Griffith wasn’t sure how to explain the entire scene.

“Its crazy how fast all of this went by,” she said.

Hawkins looked back as well, saying that it felt “weird that I was a senior and not an underclassman standing on the sideline watching someone else.”

After that, the team was able to move on and immediately focused on the difficult challenge that lay ahead. The game was defined by each team’s talented defense, keeping each other in check for a majority of the game. This meant most of the shots taken by the Profs came from far out, keeping Griffith on her toes throughout.

“We played excellent defense,” Griffith said. “(We) gave them no chances, and I was able to take care of everything that came my way.”

The Profs’ defense kept the Lions back for awhile, but started to feel pressured as time went on. Profs players like senior Chelsea Eckel and freshman Emily Daigle pushed the ball back to the middle for almost the entire half.

Toward the later half of the first, however, the Lions were able to cut through with the help of another one of the night’s honorees.

Off an assist by sophomore Christine Levering, Harkins was able to get past every Prof defender and plant a goal from the middle of the box at 32:06.

Harkins said the goal had to come eventually.

“It took a lot of effort, but with that much pressure something has to give eventually,” she said. “I still couldn’t believe it, though.”

Almost as if the team sensed the Profs were shaken up, they were able to strike again. A minute later with chaos in the box after Profs goalie Carleigh Trivino failed to pick up a pass, Levering knocked in the ball for another goal at 33:50.

The game continued on into the second half, as the Rowan squad continued to fight, even after the players began to show some fatigue. The same went for the Lions, as each team’s offence kept trying to push, hoping for the slightest slip up. The Prof’s offense was able to get three shots in each half, while the Lion’s were able to get 11 in the first and seven in the second, a game total of 18.

When the final whistle blew, the women’s team was able to come away with the win, cementing its first round bye as the second seed. It wasn’t hard to believe that the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) had released its rankings that day with the team being ranked 13th in the nation for its division, with Montclair (the first seed) being ranked 10th.

With that, and the following day’s games, the playoff picture was complete, and the first four seeds were cemented: Montclair State, The College of New Jersey, Stockton and Rowan.

The first round bye leaves the team’s first game in the playoffs on Wednesday, Nov. 5 at home, but no official appointment has been announced yet.

Griffith hopes that the extra time is going to be used for extra practice. She believes some parts of the team need some fine-tuning before the next game.

“We need to focus on keeping our energy levels high during games, plus finishing strong,” she said. “(We) just have to get ready for the postseason.”

Harkins for her part, just sees the next few days as a chance to keep doing what the team has already been doing.

“We’re going to recover over the next few days, take it easy,” Harkins said. “Then, it’ll be about keeping our fitness up.”

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