“This is awesome! I love it.”
Those were the words Haverford men’s soccer head coach Zach Ward used in a quick interaction with a member of the Rowan staff as the two teams got ready to go into overtime in a 2-2 tie in what felt a lot like the heavyweight non-conference bout it was advertised as when two of the areas powerhouses in men’s soccer met on Wednesday afternoon.
Ward didn’t necessarily like what he saw on the last gasp equalizer Matt Hendrickson scored for the visitors when he volleyed a ball headed his way in the box from Jay Vandermark with seconds left on the clock. But he had to be happy with the way his team came out in each half when Nick Jannelli gave the Fords an early lead off a free kick in the third minute with his sixth of the year and Rodrigo Zuniga was played in by a pretty flick from Jannelli and beat the keeper with a great touch of his own in the 54th minute.
The early goals in each half forced Rowan to play from behind twice, but in both instances it was Hendrickson who came up with the final ball with time running down that had eluded the offense through multiple waves of attacks. “Hendo” as he’s known by teammates blasted one into the top right corner of the net in the 24 seconds left in the first half and delivered the equalizer with 24 seconds left in the second.
The goals were the junior’s first since October 2017 in just his third game of the season back from injury.
“Best feeling in the world stepping on that field pain free,” Hendrickson later wrote on Instagram. “I’m just getting started.”
Rowan (4-1-2) came into the game ranked 17th in the latest United Soccer Coaches poll after a four-point road trip to Chicago, where they drew then No. 7 Chicago 1-1 and beat then No. 10 North Park 3-1. Wednesday’s game at Haverford was their last non-conference contest before beginning their nine-game NJAC slate.
Haverford (2-1-2) wasn’t in the United Coaches national poll (they were ranked regionally and received votes in the D3Soccer.com rankings) but showed that they could hang with a Rowan team known for its high-octane. The clash of styles and the hard-nosed quality of the game made for an exciting back and forth affair between two schools that have collected over 90 combined wins over the past five seasons.
The game was also good preparation for a stretch of games that will see the Fords open conference play at No. 3 Johns Hopkins on Saturday and visit Rutgers-Camden on Wednesday night before returning to conference play next Saturday at home against No. 13 Franklin & Marshall, the only other team from the region to crack the most recent United Soccer Coaches national poll.