When soccer haters like to criticize the sport for not having enough scoring, they aren’t talking about the display Rowan University put on this season.
In 21 games this season, the Profs have hit the back of the net 73 times, good enough for second in the nation (believe it or not Calvin College has connected on six more goals in one fewer game).
That’s also good enough for second in the NCAA (Goldey-Beacom is tops in DII with 63, Wake Forest in D1 with 55).
What’s perhaps most remarkable about the feat though is how many Rowan players have scored this season (19) and the fact that all but three of those players has scored more than once.
“We have so many threats, not just the people up top but the people behind us,” said junior forward Shane Doherty, who leads the offense with 14 goals and nine assists. “We all love scoring and seeing each other score. It’s not a selfish thing. We all just love the feeling.”
Doherty, of Delran and second-leading goal scorer Matt Hendrickson (Mantua Township, N.J.) with 12 have together scored one fewer goal than their first round opponent, Cabrini, has as a team all season. It’s the Cavaliers defense that has them in the tournament. Back-to-back 1-0 shutouts over Neumann and Keystone College in the Colonial States Athletic Conference earned the Cavaliers their sixth appearance in the tournament and first since 2015.
A tournament berth was far out of reach in the first part of the season as Cabrini went 0-7-1 out of the gate, but their remarkable midseason turnaround - they’ve gone 10-1 since while allowing only four goals - will make them a formidable foe in the first meeting between the two schools 38 miles apart since 2006.
The winner will have a quick turnaround with the second round match scheduled for 6 p.m. Sunday at the Rowan Soccer Complex in Glassboro against the winner of Saturday’s other semifinal between DeSales and Johns Hopkins.
The Profs lost 1-0 their last time out last Saturday in the New Jersey Athletic Conference championship to Rutgers-Newark on an 80th minute goal. Despite the defeat and the rare goose egg on the scoreboard, the team is carrying the kind of confidence that comes with a 17-3-1 record.
Still, all the goals, all the wins and a defense that was overshadowed but still strong in its own right will in the end be defined by how deep their tournament run goes. Rowan has won the national championship twice in 1981 and 1990, finished second twice and third three times.
“I really do feel confident in the group of guys we have,” head coach Scott Baker said. “Hopefully they prove it over the next six games.”