By Rob Rose
For the third time in its first seven games, the men’s soccer team allowed a goal in the game’s final minutes and suffered a heartbreaking defeat. This time, Rider was defeated by Princeton, 1-0, allowing a game-winning goal in the 108th minute during the second overtime period that extended its losing streak to three games.
The contest was the fourth overtime match the Broncs have played and their third time going into double overtime. Rider’s record in these games is 0-3-1. These four games have added 70 minutes of game time for the Broncs, almost another full 90-minute game.
Entering the 2018 season, the issue facing Rider was how the team would replace forward Jose Aguinaga and goalkeeper David Pastuna, two graduates who were key members of the 2015 and 2016 MAAC Championship-winning teams.
Offensively, this season has been a struggle for the Broncs. Through its first seven games, Rider has only scored two goals and has yet to score multiple goals in a game, while being shut out five times. In comparison, last season, the Broncs scored 11 goals in their first seven games and only failed to score in one of those contests.
Looking at the men in goal, Head Coach Charlie Inverso has used a pair of goalkeepers early this year. Freshman goalkeeper Garret Potter and sophomore goalkeeper Pablo Gatinois have split time in net during this campaign and both have played well.
“I still think [Potter and Gatinois] are pretty close, but both guys have played well and they haven’t conceded a goal that was their fault,” said Inverso.
In his three starts, Gatinois has a record of 1-2 and allowed two goals in 300 minutes in net. Potter has started three games, played in four and has a record of 0-3-1. He has been between the posts for 383 minutes and has allowed six goals.
— Rider Mens Soccer (@RiderMensSoccer) September 20, 2018
Compared to last season when Pastuna was in net, Rider’s goalkeepers have been solid. In 2017, Pastuna allowed nine goals in the team’s first seven games, one more than the eight that the Broncs have given up this season.
There is no doubt that the Broncs will need to turn things around soon or the team’s struggles will continue.
Currently Rider’s offense is last in the MAAC in points, goals and assists, despite leading the conference in corner kicks. On the defensive side, the Broncs have allowed the second-most goals in the MAAC and have taken the most fouls in the league, with 123.
The positive is that Rider’s next match marks the beginning of conference play and the games that really matter. In the MAAC, the games played against conference opponents are the only contests that factor into the final standings.
“Starting conference [play] is almost like starting a new season,” said graduate student forward Elliott Otmani. “Nonconference games showed us what aspects of the game we need to improve on. Now, we know how conference [play] goes, no matter how we play, the results will be more important than anything else.”
Another thing working in Rider’s favor is the overall struggle among MAAC teams in 2018. Currently, only Manhattan and Iona have winning records of 7-1 and 4-2-1, respectively.
Rider’s record currently sits at 1-5-1 and their next match is Sept. 26 against Iona at 7 p.m on Ben Cohen Field.