By Michael Battista
The Lions advanced to the New Jersey Athletic Conference title game for the third straight year after a 5-0 win against Rutgers-Newark at home on Tuesday, Nov. 3, but were defeated by the top-seeded Rowan Profs, 2-1, in Glassboro, N.J., on Friday, Nov. 6.
The second-seeded Lions came into the matchup with previous wins against Rutgers-Newark under their belt from earlier this season, while the Scarlet Raiders were competing in their first NJAC semi-final in school history.
The College controlled the ball on offense for a majority of the game, taking a total of 14 shots on goal while keeping Rutgers-Newark at zero for 90 minutes.
Sophomore midfielder Jessica Goldman put the team on the board early, when just under 15 minutes into the match she was able to break away and launch a shot from the 30 yard line that sailed over the goalie, putting the Lions up, 1-0.
The second half saw even more aggression from the team, as they racked up four more goals in the 45-minute stretch. Junior midfielder Lauren Malajian was able to knock one in from the far post and just under two minutes later, freshman midfielder Arielle Curtis scored her first goal in her college career off an assist from junior defenseman Marissa Scognamiglio.
Sophomore defenseman Abigail Emmert and freshman forward Kate Galgano rounded out the goals for the match, giving the Lions a 5-0 win, and senior goalkeeper Jessica Weeder her 10th clean sheet of the year.
Assistant coach Katie Lindacher said the team was looking for a game like this.
“For Rutgers-Newark, we just had a couple games where we just weren’t scoring so we were fighting to score a lot of goals and we were fired up to do so,” Lindacher said.
The win earned the College a chance to return to Rowan University in a rematch of the regular season final for the NJAC Championship.
The Rowan University Profs came into the matchup as the No. 1 seed in the NJAC, an honor they earned in the last regular season game against the College in a 1-0 win.
Lindacher says the Lions came into the game with a lot of energy.
“The team definitely had more drive to push through in the conference tournament,” she said. “To come out and lose the top seed, they just want to come out on top in the final.”
The match showcased the best parts of the NJAC, with both teams playing tight defense all game while not making many mistakes on the offensive side of the field. Weeder saved two shots for the Lions while Profs’ freshman goalie Shelby Money made six saves all game.
Scognamiglio put the Lions on the board first after a foul by Rowan in the box allowed her to take a penalty kick, putting the team up, 1-0.
However, the Profs weren’t the NJAC’s top team for no reason, and in the second half they attacked the College’s zone early on. Capitalizing on a chance in the 65th minute, Profs’ freshman midfielder Sarah Rosenberg was able to knock in a cross from the right side of the field passed Weeder, tieing the game at 1-1.
The Lions took four more shots on goal, but the score remained the same after the clock struck 90, pushing it into overtime, with the golden goal rule in affect.
In the overtime period, the Profs were able to control the ball and keep the Lions from taking a single shot. Just over three and a half minutes into the period, freshman forward Cathryn McCarry became the hero of her team’s season when she scored the winning goal to give the Profs the 2-1 win, the NJAC championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
“It was two teams that wanted it really badly and only one can win,” Lindacher said. “Rowan came out on top.”
The Lions lost their second NJAC final to the first round seed in two years, but Lindacher thinks looking forward is the best option.
“Just from the tradition of the team and the legacy of the team you just know we are TCNJ and we have a standard to uphold,” she said. “Even though we didn’t get the championship these last two years, we know next year is another chance because we are TCNJ and a powerhouse in the conference.”
Despite the loss, the team learned on Monday, Nov. 9, that they received an at large bid to the 2015 NCAA Division III Tournament, and will face St. Lawrence University at Williams College on Saturday, Nov. 14. The 13-4-2 Saints will be playing in their first NCAA tournament since 1986, while the Lions will be competing in their 25th straight trip to the event.