By Jennifer Boyer
After six weeks without a win, the women’s soccer team picked up its first two victories last week at home against Saint Peter’s and Fairfield.
The Broncs came out with determination on Sept. 20 against Saint Peter’s. Junior forward Kourtney Cunningham came out strong and fast by scoring in the 18th minute of the game. She received a pass from senior forward Michelle Iacono inside the 18-yard box and scored off the left post, giving Rider the lead.
Senior forward Ellie Smith added to the scoreboard later in the first half by heading the ball in the six-yard box with the assistance of Iacono and sophomore midfielder Valerie Pascuet. Rider was able to maintain the lead during the first half with a strong showing from its defense.
The Broncs proved that hard work pays off by carrying strength from the first half into the second. Smith scored another goal for the Broncs in the 63rd minute of the game, giving them their first win, 3-0 against the Peacocks.
The Broncs continued their winning streak through the weekend as they took on Fairfield Saturday night. Iacono kept up her high intensity by scoring the first goal of the game from 30 yards out.
Rider’s offense continued to march down the field as Iacono forced a turnover inside Fairfield’s box, leading to junior midfielder Sam Picinich scoring her first goal of the season. Soon after, the Broncs’ defense collapsed in the 21st minute as the Stags picked up their first goal.
The second half started out slow, with over 27 minutes of scoreless play. Iacono released a low shot from 20 yards out into the net, giving Rider a 3-1 advantage. The women kept pressuring the Fairfield defense, trying to get a fourth goal to seal the game.
With Iacono still motivated to get a second goal in the half, she forced a breakaway in the top of the box. The play led to Fairfield’s junior goalkeeper Megan DeFeo earning a red card for her aggressive defense. Shortly after, the Broncs were up a player which led to Cunningham’s goal from the left side of the box in the 90th minute of the game. Rider finished with a 4-1 victory over the Stags.
Picinich, when asked about the team’s performance this week stated, “The team’s energy has been amazing. Although the results weren’t what we hoped for in the beginning, our team as a whole has been great this season and that is a huge reason for our last two wins.” She concluded saying, “We are beginning to play as a unit, and it is finally coming together.”
Head Coach Drayson Hounsome echoed that sentiment, and added, “The energy has been good each week, but obviously with a couple of wins there is a weight lifted from the team.”
The Broncs’ next home game is on Sept. 30 at 1 p.m. against Niagara at Ben Cohen Field.