Broncs begin conference play with draw

By Mike Ricchione

To close out its four-game homestand, Rider opened Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) play with a 1-1 draw against Siena.

Sophomore forward Nikki Arrington returned to the starting lineup after missing the prior game due to an ankle injury. Arrington was on the pitch for 11 minutes before she hobbled to the Broncs’ bench in pain against Temple on Sept. 15 and was replaced by freshman forward Hailey Russell.

Arrington returned in the second half against Temple despite the earlier injury and tied graduate forward Emily Curteis for the team lead in shots for the match with three.

Most of the action in the first half came in the last 10 minutes as Siena held an edge over Rider in the shot category. 

Tied at three shots apiece as time winded down, Siena put three shots on goal, but junior goalkeeper Carmen Carbonell stopped them all and gave the Broncs a chance to get on the board.

In the 44th minute, senior midfielder Sofia Soares was fouled by Siena’s Madi Belvito which set up a free kick. On that play, senior midfielder Valeria Pascuet took the kick and scored to take a 1-0 lead at halftime.

“It was really important for me,” Pascuet said. “It was a team effort because Sofia [Soares] got that foul out of her pocket and it was my chance to just put it in the back of the net.”

Despite the Broncs’ goal advantage, Siena outshot Rider 6-4 in the first half and did the same in the second half, 10-7. 

Rider had a handful of scoring opportunities in the second half to either double or take the lead but ultimately failed to convert.

In the 63rd minute, another chance for the Broncs seemed to emerge but wasquickly closed after the play was called offsides.

Twenty minutes later Siena came up with the equalizer off the foot of Jayanna Monds and knotted the game at one.

In extra time, the game-winning goal was nowhere to be found for either side.

Sophomore midfielder Ailis Martin came close to sinking the finishing goal, only having to beat Siena’s goalkeeper, Taylor Dorado. Dorado made the save on what was the Broncs’ biggest chance in extra time. 

“I think we looked a little bit nervous at the start.” Head Coach Drayson Hounsome said. “We were giving the ball away when at times we shouldn’t [have], but when we did settle down and we got the ball into the positions we wanted, I thought we looked good at times.”

Coming up for the Broncs is a match against Quinnipiac on Sept. 28. The game will take place in the two environments where Rider has not done well; on the road and in the afternoon. The Broncs haven’t found the back of the net away from Ben Cohen Field and are 0-1-3 when they play during the day this season.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have a great record when we play a game in the middle of the afternoon. We’ve won three games this season and they’ve all been at seven o’clock at night.” Hounsome said. “So it’s a different energy, the atmosphere’s different. There’s a lacking of energy and a lacking of atmosphere so the team has to bring it.”

The last time Rider was in Hamden, Connecticut, they tied Quinnipiac, 1-1, on Oct. 4, 2017. In the last seven matchups, Rider holds a 4-2-1 advantage. 

This will be the first time the Broncs will travel out-of-state, and their first hotel stay of the season.

“It’s always fun to stay over.” Pascuet said of staying at a hotel. “The room vibe, just being with each other. It’s always fun to just be with everyone in a different environment and I feel like it’s going to be a good experience especially for the freshmen that’ve never been in an away MAAC game.”

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