Both Rider soccer teams wrapped up non-conference play this weekend as they now prepare for the all-important MAAC season.
The men’s team (5-4) put on a show for the home crowd against LaSalle (2-5-1) last Saturday, beating the Explorers 4-1. Sophomore Nico Tramontana scored two goals on three shots and senior Lee Tomasso had two assists during the Broncs charge.
“Everything we did on the field went right,” Head Coach Russ Fager said. “We were able to score three beautiful goals on set pieces and another nice one by the two freshmen.”
Rider was rolling early when Tramontana scored his first goal of the game off of an assist from Tomasso at 3:27. Junior Anthony Gilburt scored his first goal of the season seven minutes later to put the Broncs up by two in the first half.
“I think that getting the first goal is very important,” Tramontana said. “Once I scored I knew it was time to work hard to keep that lead and build on it.”
That turned out to be all Rider needed, but they didn’t stop there. Freshman Tom Antonucci scored his second goal of the season 45:41 into the game to put Rider up 3-0. Tramontana later added his second tally of the game and fourth of the season at 73:57 with the assist going to junior Colin Jennings.
“Scoring the second goal just propelled us past LaSalle and wiped away any chance of a comeback for them,” Tramontana said.
Junior goalkeeper Randall Zapolski was able to keep the Explorers at bay with eight saves.
Tramontana’s efforts didn’t go unnoticed as he was selected as MAAC co-offensive player of the week with St. Peter’s senior forward Juan Gaviria.
“I found out Monday when I received a call from another reporter congratulating me,” Tramontana said. “I wasn’t aware of it beforehand and was really excited when I heard the news.”
Freshman Andrew Cotes was also honored by the conference as he won MAAC Rookie of the Week for the week of Sept. 24-30. The Rider freshmen have been in the limelight as this is the third straight week they have had a player selected for the weekly honor. Freshman Jim Bradley was selected for the week of Sept. 10-16, and Antonucci was selected for the week of Sept. 17-23.
“Making the adjustment to college soccer was pretty difficult but I just worked through the hard times and coach gave me the opportunity to play,” Cotes said. “It’s been great for Jim, Tom and myself to get the recognition from the conference for our hard work.”
Rider seems to be getting on track after dropping its first three games. They have won five of their last six, including three in a row, and are hitting their stride heading into conference play that starts this weekend.
The women’s team (3-3-3) meanwhile, hit a bump in the road Sunday against the University of Pennsylvania (7-2-1), getting shutout 2-0. The Broncs were unable to get it going against the Quakers as they were outshot 13-3.
The Quakers first goal came at 28:38 in the first half when sophomore forward Jessica Fuccello scored her sixth goal of the season with Sarah Friedman picking up the assist.
Things haven’t been going well for the Broncs after their eight game unbeaten streak was snapped. After a double overtime stalemate with Drexel on Sept. 14, the team has lost three of its last four games heading into today.
Both teams are projected to finish better than they did last year. The men are looking to improve upon their 2-5-2 record in the conference last year, and are entering conference play on a high note. The women finished 6-8-3 last year and are looking to finish over .500 this year.
The men will kick off the MAAC season on the road tonight as they travel to Marist to take on the Red Foxes at 7 p.m. The women will open up their conference schedule today at home against the St. Peter’s Peahens (1-7) at 4 p.m.