By Arianna Marino
The men’s soccer team added another win to its season after taking down Niagara on Oct. 1.
From the first whistle, Rider (6-2-1, 1-0-1 MAAC) maintained dominance over the Purple Eagles.
The Broncs had constant on-field superiority, affording the visitors little room to move the ball. Throughout the first half of the game, Rider pressured the Purple Eagles, generating many early scoring opportunities that were continuously stopped by Niagara goalkeeper Steve Casey.
Despite frustration from the continuous missed chances, Rider kept its confidence and poise and continued to play the first half in control, as the Broncs defended well. At halftime, Niagara only managed to get one shot on net.
Junior forward Jose Aguinaga said the team was optimistic about its chances coming out of halftime.
“We know what we are capable of,” he said. “That was the message [from Head Coach Charlie Inverso] at halftime, to keep doing what we were doing and be patient. We were comfortable in the fact that we would score eventually.”
At the start of the second half, it did not take long for Rider to break the ice. In the 53rd minute, Rider was finally able to sneak one in past the Niagara keeper. Freshman forward Clement Bourret delivered Rider’s first goal of the game assisted by Aguinaga.
Bourret said the team was able to stick to the game plan as its great chances were denied.
“We were definitely frustrated,” he said. “It wasn’t easy because Niagara had a good defensive block, but we were patient. We controlled the game.”
With one goal already on the board, Rider didn’t let up offensively against Niagara. The majority of the game was played in Niagara’s half of the field; however, the limited moments Niagara managed to be in Rider’s half were met with defensive resistance.
In the 67th minute, Rider responded again, as junior forward Elliott Otmani sent a ball straight into the net, assisted again by Aguinaga.
Aguinaga said the team is happy with the win, but improvement is needed.
“I think we had a pretty good game overall, but we still need to put more of our chances away because we’re not always going to have as many opportunities in a game,” Aguinaga said.
Otmani’s goal secured the win. As both teams battled the rest of the game out, the efforts of Niagara were no match for Rider’s defense, and Rider was the team that came out victorious.
On Oct. 5, the Broncs will play a rematch of the 2015 MAAC title game when they head to West Long Branch to face Monmouth. Rider won the last meeting, 3-2, to advance to the NCAA Tournament.
The team returns home on Oct. 8 to play Siena at 1 p.m.
Aguinaga said the team will have to be ready to play on both ends of the field in order to leave Monmouth with a win.
“Monmouth is always a good team, but we know each other pretty well,” he said. “We just have to focus on all aspects of the game because when teams are evenly matched like this, anything can happen.”