By Aidan Brager and Richard Saile
With the end of the regular season near, Rider men’s soccer on the road tied with the Canisius Griffs on Oct. 18 and won a nail bitter at home against Niagara on Oct. 21.
On Oct. 18, Rider men’s soccer traveled to Buffalo, New York to face off against the Canisius Griffs only to tie 2-2 in the first of two weekend games.
The Broncs started off the game well, moving the ball offensively and putting early pressure on the Griffs’ defense.
Missing a couple early shots early in the game, the Broncs eventually broke through the Griffs’ defense to score the first goal of the game. Senior midfielder Adel Al Masude scored his third goal of the season for the Broncs in the 11th minute, playing the ball off the left post and sending it into the net to give the Broncs a 1-0 lead.
Rider was able to score another goal before halftime as sophomore midfielder Luke Kirilenko scored off the rebound from the top-left corner of the 18-yard box to give the Broncs a 2-0 lead in the 45th minute. The Broncs defense held Canisius scoreless and controlled the first half, keeping the Griffs offense from scoring thanks to sophomore goalkeeper Adam Salama making two incredible saves.
In the second half, roles reversed as Canisius became more aggressive offensively, scoring its first goal of the game off a corner and cutting the Broncs lead in half. With roughly 10 minutes left in the game, the Griffs scored the game-tying goal near the top of the 18-yard box and shot the ball through traffic to bring the game to 2-2. The Broncs offense was not able to capitalize off of this when they were in Griffs territory, as it looked like they were playing keep away with the Griffs and it resulted in a 2-2 draw.
Before the match, the Broncs had won the last five matches against the Griffs. Salama ended up with five saves, the Broncs outshooting Canisius 30-13 and shots on goal coming to 13-7.
‘I was happy for our guys’
Rider finally got back to its winning ways with a 1-0 win over Niagara on Oct. 21.
The Broncs were preparing to take on the Niagara Purple Eagles at Ben Cohen Field, having not won in close to a month, with their past four games ending in two draws and two losses. Niagra had just two wins on the season going into the match, and were looking to be the reason the Broncs winless streak continued.
The game kicked off, and besides an early chance from the Purple Eagles, featured the Broncs dominating possession and chances on goal. They played aggressive early on, which has been a trend for Rider this season.
In the 12th minute, senior forward Babacar Dienemade a run at the defense, got around the keeper and took a shot on goal. The shot ricocheted off a Niagara defender, and found the back of the net thanks to Al-Masude to give Rider an early 1-0 lead.
“We’ve talked a lot lately about trying to get a goal early, ” said Head Coach Chad Duernberger. “I was happy for our guys to go and chase that and find the back of the net.”
The game continued with Rider frequently creating good chances and playing great defense. The Broncs finished the first half with eight shots to Niagara’s one as they handily controlled the pace of the game.
The second half wasn’t any different. Rider continued to play solid on defense, facing six shots but only having to make a save once.
On the Broncs stellar defensive performance, Duernberger said, “I thought our backline did really well.”
The Broncs had another 11 shots on goal but couldn’t manage to stick one in the back of the net to further extend their lead. The game finished 1-0 with Rider finally getting back in the win column.
On the team finally getting back to their winning ways with this result, Duernberger said, “When you get into a slump, as long as you can find a way to get out of it, [you’re] the most successful … I thought the guys were in it together since the start and it paid off.”
The Broncs will look to extend their win streak to two as they prepare to take on Mount St. Mary’s on the road on Oct. 25 at 7 p.m.