After the first loss of the year, the Lions needed to come back with a big victory.
Casey Caruso was the player who provided that big victory.
The junior forward netted a goal 3:24 into second overtime as the No. 6-ranked Lions took a 1-0 game against the hosting Red Hawks of Montclair State University on Sunday to improve to 8-1.
Caruso’s goal, her fourth of the year, may have shifted the momentum back into the corner of the Lions, as they won their second game in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) in three attempts.
“After last season, I think the team, at least the returning players, knew that nothing would be handed to us,” Caruso said. “We work hard every day at practice and hope for the best.”
Much of this momentum can be credited to the defense and goalkeeper Jess Clarke. The senior tallied her sixth shutout of the season in nine chances with just one save on Sunday, showing just how overpowering the Lions’ defense can be when their opponents have the ball.
“All of the positions on our team have been doing a tremendous job defensively,” Clarke said.
Contrary to the solid defensive play on Sunday, much of that was not there in the Lions game against the Profs of Rowan University last Wednesday, especially in the second half.
In what may have been a potential NJAC championship preview, the No. 23-ranked Profs downed the Lions 4-0, thus ending a seven-game winning streak to start the season.
After allowing just one goal in the first 45 minutes, the Lions allowed three goals in the final half to ice their first loss of the season.
“They are a very tough team who fight until the end,” Caruso said. “We knew this going in to the game; it was a hard-fought battle.”
With the win, the Profs improved to 5-1-1 on the year, including 2-0 in the conference.
The lack of offense certainly did the team in as well, so some things may need to be altered in establishing a more fiery offensive game.
Despite the loss, the Lions now stand at an impressive 8-1 overall, and show no signs of stopping the early season dominance. It appears the team has just one thing on its mind.
“We want to get back to where we were as a team two years ago and get back to the final four,” Caruso said. “Last season just didn’t cut it for anyone.”
The College looks to continue its run with a win on the road against conference opponent Rutgers University-Camden tonight, Sept. 30 at 7 p.m.
The Lions then return home on Saturday to host NJAC rival New Jersey City University at 1 p.m.