The Lions’ hopes of reaching the New Jersey Athletic Conference Championships were cut short just 3 minutes before the end of double overtime this past Wednesday. After a Rowan corner kick created multiple shots on the College’s goal, junior midfielder John Loiodice finally found the back of the net in the 106th minute, sending the Profs to the NJAC Championships this Saturday against No.1-seed Montclair State University.
“The (second) goal was heartbreaking,” Luber said. “It’s tough to lose your last collegiate game on a golden goal. But that’s how the game is sometimes. Two pretty evenly matched teams fought hard and unfortunately there has to be a loser.”
The Lions, who had earned a first round bye, took the lead early in the game. Junior forward Drew Lampitt connected on a pass from sophomore forward Ray Nelan and hammered a shot past Rowan’s junior goalkeeper Charlie Cunliffe 1:20 into the game.
“To be honest, I was just fortunate to get the last touch on the ball,” Lampitt said. “All the hard work came from Phil (Cunha) getting the ball up to Ray who ran down the line to give it to me. I was just hoping it was what we needed to get some early momentum going.”
The Lions fell back into a more relaxed style of play, until the Profs mounted a series of offensive attacks. The Lions countered with their own offensive onslaught, creating more than one chance to score by senior forward Kevin Luber and senior midfielder Anthony Staropoli. By the end of the first half, the College maintained its 1-0 lead.
Rowan came back in full force during the second half. In a similar move, Rowan junior Randy Kohr scored from a corner kick two minutes after the kickoff. The remainder of the game remained split. The Lions and the Profs battled back and forth for the rest of the half, including more chances from Luber and sophomore midfielder Ed Kozic, resulting in a 1-1 stalemate that produced two overtimes.
Before the game, TCNJ announced that four seniors were selected for the all-NJAC teams this year. Luber was named as a forward for the First Team, while Staropoli was named as a midfielder for the second team. Defensive back Adam Dorflinger and Midfielder Brian Galicia were named All-NJAC honorable mention as well. The team will graduate six seniors this year.
“I am very proud to have had the chance to play and represent TCNJ,” Luber said. “Every day of every season was hard work. I could not be any prouder of the team’s performance over these four years. I could not have asked for a better group of teammates and coaches. I am very thankful to of had the opportunity to play at such a high level.
“The seniors are an incredible group,” junior defender Phillip Cunha said. “Every one of them means so much to the team whether it’s on or off the field. They’re leaving some big roles to fill, but being part of a good program is all about stepping up when certain players leave. They are tremendous individuals and I’m honored to know and have them as my teammates.”