By Carlos Toro
After missing nine games this season because of an injury, sophomore back Tara Ballay made sure to have a strong return.
The Broncs (7-7, 4-4 MAAC) won in double overtime against Manhattan on the road, 2-1, behind Ballay’s two goals. It was Rider’s first road-conference win this season and third victory in the last four games.
Ballay was happy to be back on the field and the two goals were a plus.
“The team has been really supportive of me throughout my injury and they have all been a huge help pushing me to get back into game shape and getting my fundamental skills back up,” Ballay said.
Manhattan (5-10-1, 2-5-1 MAAC) was the first team to find the back of the net in Riverdale, N.Y., in the 10th minute of the game, when senior forward Janie Schlauder carried the ball into the middle and fired a low shot from 15 yards out.
Rider quickly responded 20 minutes later when Ballay scored off a header from a cross by senior forward Jody Sokol to tie it at one goal apiece.
The second half featured a change in goalkeeper when freshman Vanessa Perdomo came in after the break for freshman Bethany-May Howard. Perdomo played the two overtime periods and saved five shots on goal.
The last 45 minutes of regulation and the first overtime period ended without a winner.
It was not until the second overtime period that Ballay scored again, in the 107th minute, on a header with an assist from senior forward Jennifer Meier.
“In overtime, we knew Tara would attack any ball that crossed into the box, so we put her at center forward and asked the wide forwards to work on finding a way to cross the ball in for her,” Head Coach Drayson Hounsome said. “They executed this brilliantly to get the win.”
A victory on the road against Manhattan is nothing new. The Broncs played at Manhattan three of the last four years and won every road game, but this one was arguably the toughest.
The game featured a lot of shots (26 in regulation, 35 total) and Rider barely outshot Manhattan 18-17 for the game.
Rider welcomed the road victory, especially after losing 3-0 on the road against Monmouth. They will look toward building momentum heading into the final stretch of the regular season.
“Confidence builds up from one win to the next and having the experience of a golden goal win certainly adds to it as we prepare for this week’s matches,” Hounsome said.
The Broncs have two games remaining on their regular season schedule, both at home, before going to the ESPN World of Sports complex located in the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, for the MAAC Tournament. They face Niagara (4-11-1, 3-4-1 MAAC) on Oct. 23 and play on Oct. 26 against a Fairfield squad (10-5-1, 6-1-1 MAAC) that has won its last four games.
The team is excited to finish the regular season in front of their fans.
“Playing at home is important in these two last games and if we can be successful, it will put us in this year’s MAAC tournament,” Hounsome said.