Rider finishes strong before MAAC playoffs

Junior Lauren Musumeci advances the ball up field during Rider’s 4-1 victory over Manhattan.
Junior Lauren Musumeci advances the ball up field during Rider’s 4-1 victory over Manhattan.

By Cord Stasolla

The Rider women’s soccer team had a great deal of confidence going into its two home games against conference foes, Manhattan and Saint Peter’s, this past weekend.  Over the course of the season, the team had gone 4-1 at home.
The Broncs continued their home field dominance with a 4-1 win over the Jaspers on Friday, followed up by a narrow 1-0 victory over the Peacocks.
“[The team was] definitely confident coming in, and the expectations were for us to win these two games; we didn’t think anything less than two wins,” said Head Coach Drayson Hounsome.
Rider competed against Manhattan on Friday night in cold and damp conditions.  The Broncs struck first, just four minutes into the game, on a 23-yarder by freshman Demi Mello. The Broncs then went on to score three more times before the half on goals by junior Lauren Musumeci, and seniors Natalie Sica and Alison Brody. Freshman forward Abi Cottam had assists on three of the goals.
“Four goals in the first half is very good; that’s quite rare in soccer,” said Hounsome. “The credit goes to our players working hard in practice.”
Manhattan added its only goal of the game in the second half on a penalty kick.  The kick was a result of a questionable call, as the crowd made quite clear.  Despite the goal, Rider held Manhattan and ended the game with a 4-1win. The Jaspers fell to 7-8-2 overall (2-4-2 MAAC).
Musumeci’s goal was her seventh of the season, the most a player has had since Tami Coyle in 2004.
“This was a landmark game for Lauren; she put in her seventh goal of the season, which is a great achievement,” said Hounsome.
Despite her vast amount of talent, Musumeci is very humble about her goal.
“Scoring always feels great and is exciting, but the fact that the team was able to win the game is definitely an even better feeling,” she said.
Last year, Rider lost to Manhattan in New York 4-0.
“It’s a great boost to beat Manhattan this year,” Hounsome said. “We did a good job of bouncing back from last year’s loss.”
Two days after their win over the Jaspers, the Broncs once again took the field to play Saint Peter’s.  Before the game, seniors Leslie Amster, Stacy Belgiovene, Brody, Kate Murphy and Sica were honored on Senior Day.
“Our seniors this year were a unique group of athletes,” said freshman midfielder Claire Thompson. “They are each attributed with different talents and traits that have contributed to this program in ways that I, as a freshman, cannot fully understand.”
In the first half against Saint Peter’s, the Broncs constantly threatened and were the aggressors.  Although the score was tied at zero at halftime, they accumulated six shots on goal, as compared to Saint Peter’s single shot.
Rider remained aggressive in the second half, when it amassed 15more shots on goal to St. Peter’s additional one.  However, the score was still tied at zero heading into the final 10 minutes of the game.
With Rider constantly threatening, the team finally came through on Thompson’s goal with 8:54 remaining.
“As the shot came in, I realized that it was headed straight for the cross bar,” she said. “I knew it wouldn’t take much to put the ball in the net and when it came off the cross bar, I was ready for it.  The credit for this goal really goes to Moose [Musumeci]. It was exciting to contribute to the win today.”
The Broncs held St. Peter’s for the final eight minutes, and came away with their sixth home win in seven tries. St. Peter’s loss was its eighth of the year by one goal, and they fell to 4-14-1 (1-8 MAAC).  The Broncs now hold a 7-10-1 overall (3-6 MAAC) record.
“We’ve said all season, ‘let’s be dominant at home; let’s make this our castle which no one can come in and get anything from,’” Hounsome said. “To finish the season 6-1 at home, we came pretty close to doing that.”
This year, the team’s total wins more than tripled as compared to last year.  Huonsome hopes this growth will carry over into next year.
“In a program, you always want to get better and better,” he said. “Last year to this year was a massive step, and we’ll be looking to make an even bigger step again next year.”
As of yesterday, the team is in Orlando, Fl. to compete in the MAAC Championships at Disney World’s Wide World of Sports Complex.  They enter the tournament ranked eighth of 10 teams, and they will face the No. 9 seed, Manhattan, at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 29.

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