By Michael Battista
After an impressive season, it took only one goal to usurp the Lions from the top spot in the NJAC, as the team fell, 1-0, against Rowan University on Thursday, Oct. 29, on the road. The Profs were right behind the College all season when it came to points, but they won right when it mattered.
Sophomore midfielder Elizabeth Thoresen said the loss stung more than others.
“If I say it didn’t bother me, I would be lying. It stings a lot,” she said. “As a team, we all worked so hard and came up a little short. But we are not finished by any means… To win the tournament we will have to work even harder but I believe in my teammates and our determination to be successful.”
The team traveled to Glassboro, N.J., for its last regular season game on the year, as well as its last NJAC matchup.
The Profs (5-1-2) came into the match needing a win if they wanted the NJAC top seed, while the Lions (6-1-1) needed to win or tie to keep the top spot in the conference.
After the first whistle, Rowan came out attacking right away, getting three chances to score in the first 10 minutes, including a goal by sophomore forward Melissa Kelly who, thanks to quick passing, was able to get around the Lions’ defense and score to put the Profs up, 1-0, early.
Junior, forward Christine Levering says the Profs opening attack was tough.
“I think they had high pressure from the start,” she said. “We had some opportunities but didn’t finish them.”
The Lions picked it up the rest of the first half, not allowing another shot on goal from the Profs and taking a total of eight shots themselves. Thoresen nearly tied the game 29 minutes in, but her shot went high and ricocheted off the crossbar.
The College could not finish on any of its attempts all game, thanks to an alert Profs defense and a fair amount of bad breaks on the field.
The second half continued with the same trends as the first, with the Lions’ unable to connect with the crucial goal. Their seven shots on goal failed to get past Rowan’s freshman goalie Shelby Money, with three of them being saved by her alone.
“Rowan fought hard for the win and deserve credit for that,” Thoresen said. “They scored we didn’t. I do not want to make any excuses. I have no explanation other then we have to work harder and we plan on it.”
A shot by Lions junior midfielder Lauren Malajian, her second shot on goal of the game, was saved in the last five minutes of the game, keeping the score, 1-0 — leaving the Lions to drop the top seed to Rowan right before the playoffs, slipping into second.
Thoresen says the team can definitely can improve from this.
“After reviewing the game in my head and talking it over with my teammates, we controlled the possession of the ball for most of the game,” she said. “Unfortunately we came close a few times without success. Without giving away any secrets because we are on the radar screen of a lot of teams, we will play faster, we will play smarter, we will play harder and we will play better.”
The team will have a bye during the first round thanks to their record, and they now prepare to take on Rutgers-Newark, who is competing in their first NJAC semi-final in school history, on Tuesday, Oct. 3, at Lions’ Stadium.
Levering knows exactly what the team has to do and what they’re capable of, putting it short and sweet.
“I think we can beat any team with our potential,” she said.