JERSEY CITY—While the final result is a 1-0 win for #10/12 ranked Rowan University, the New Jersey City University women’s soccer team proved on Monday afternoon they can play with any team in the country. Rowan scored its lone goal in the 62nd minute on a defensive mistake and managed to stave off a furious comeback by the Gothic Knights, as the Profs survived for a 1-0 win in a New Jersey Athletic Conference game at the Robert L. McNulty Memorial Soccer Field.
With the win, Rowan improves to 13-1-1 and 7-0-0 in the NJAC, and with its 10th consecutive victory, captures the school’s first-ever NJAC regular season championship.
The Profs, ranked #10 nationally by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and 12th by D3Soccer.com, lead the all-time series, 12-0. The Profs outshot NJCU, 25-14; each team had three corners. The game was a makeup of a postponement from October 17.
For NJCU, it was the closest the rising program has ever come to knocking off a nationally ranked opponent. The Knights see their three-game winning streak end, falling to 10-7 overall and 2-5 in the NJAC. NJCU also suffered only its second home loss of the year (6-2).
In a game which featured the top two scoring offenses in Division III and the top five individual scorers in the conference, the contest will be remembered as a defensive struggle. NJCU (62 goals) and Rowan (48) had combined for 110 goals between the schools entering the game.
The two teams were scoreless at halftime, with Rowan owning an 8-3 edge in shots at the break. Despite the shots margin, the Knights actually held possession of the ball in Rowan’s defensive half of the field for much of the period.
After more than 61 scoreless minutes, the only goal of the game came at 61:39. Rowan sophomore midfielder Nina Fragoso (Franklinville, NJ/Delsea Regional) took a free kick from a stride inside the far sideline, 35 yards out.
Her loft was dropped in the box by NJCU junior keeper KELLY REILLY (Pennsville, NJ/Pennsville Memorial), and sophomore forward Evynn Wright (Marlton, NJ/Eastern Regional) knocked the loose ball into the open net. Her fourth goal of the year was the only tally of the game.
In a dramatic finish to the game, freshman forward ASHLEY CUNHA (Edison, NJ/Edison), who had three shots—all on goal—nearly tied it. Her header in the box with 1:04 remaining was caught by Rowan senior keeper Kate Harman (Laurel Springs, NJ/Sterling). While Harman was standing behind the goal line when she stopped the shot, it was ruled that she kept the ball from crossing.
Cunha, this week’s NJAC Rookie of the Week for the third time in 2009, had another solid chance which was stopped with 20 seconds remaining before a final effort by NJCU freshman defender AMANDA SPETHMANN (Wood-Ridge, NJ/Wood-Ridge—Hasbrouck Heights) sailed just high from the near right wing with 11 seconds left.
Rowan sophomore forward Veronica Rhea (Pennsauken, NJ/Paul VI), this week’s NJAC Offensive Player of the Week, had 10 of Rowan’s 25 shots. She just missed a shot at 34:23, and had a breakaway chance in the box at 42:43, before Reilly thwarted the opportunity to preserve a 0-0 game at the intermission.
Sophomore forward JULIA CASERES (Union, NJ/Union), the NCAA leader in goals (23) and points (57) had four shots for NJCU.
Harman made seven saves for Rowan, notching her first shutout of the year and the fourth for the Profs in six games. She made a diving stop of a Spethmann attempt on the right post at 81:23.
Reilly collected six saves in 70:31 of action before freshman keeper CATHERINE HENSLEY (Dripping Springs, TX/Dripping Springs) stopped three shots in the final 19:29. Hensley made a tremendous stop of a 1-on-1 shot by Rhea at 76:14. NJCU also had a pair of team saves in the 70th minute, including one by senior defender JESSICA IRIZARRY (Perth Amboy, NJ/Perth Amboy).
NJCU is back in action on Wednesday, October 21 at 3:30 p.m. when it hosts the College of Staten Island in a non-conference game. The Knights will honor Irizarry, the team’s lone senior, on Senior Day at NJCU. Rowan faces Rutgers-Newark on the road in an NJAC game on October 24 at 7 p.m.
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