By Austin Ferguson
Headed toward the final stretch of non-conference games, the Broncs lost a tough road matchup against Princeton on Sept. 11, 2-1, and shutout La Salle in their home opener on Sept. 14, 2-0, to bring their season record to 2-2.
Rider traveled to Princeton, New Jersey, for the last match of their road trip to begin the season. Going into the game, Rider trailed the all-time series 3-15-3 to Princeton.
The first half was a quiet one and neither team was able to find the back of the net. However, the action picked up right from the start of the second half.
Princeton’s Walker Gillespie scored a 50th-minute goal to put Princeton up, 1-0. The lead was extended just a minute later, when Gillespie delivered an assist to Kevin O’Toole for the second Princeton goal in two minutes.
Graduate student midfielder Juan Carlos Garcia Gomez gave the Broncs a vital chance to cut the lead in half when he drew a foul and set up a penalty kick in the 60th minute. Redshirt junior forward Pablo DeCastro cashed in and brought the game to a 2-1 score.
In the 74th minute, Rider believed it had scored the equalizer when senior forward Clement Bourret put a shot past the post, but the referees called Bourret offsides and disallowed the goal.
A couple of last-ditch efforts by the Broncs in the closing minutes failed and Rider took the 2-1 defeat on the road.
Head Coach Charlie Inverso acknowledged the difficulty of the loss for the Broncs.
“We can’t break down and give up two goals in a short span. But I can’t question our effort. We were passionate,” Inverso said.
Inverso was optimistic about Rider’s home opener against La Salle and said, “It will be nice to get back home.”
After Central Connecticut State cancelled its match against the Broncs on Sept. 4, Rider’s Sept. 14 game with La Salle became the Broncs’ home opener.
Unlike its loss to Princeton, Rider was able to start the scoring early as Bourret rebounded a shot from junior midfielder Francisco Gomez Olano into the goal to put the Broncs up 1-0.
In the 88th minute, La Salle had an opportunity to tie the game. Isak Sedin took a shot that made it past diving junior goalkeeper Pablo Gatinois, but the shot recoiled off of the left post.
Bourret iced the game in the 90th minute when he put a shot through off of an assist from DeCastro and redshirt junior midfielder Mathis Catanzaro to cement the win, 2-0.
Bourret’s two-goal game helped him win Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Player of the Week honors on Sept. 16.
The effort against La Salle for Gatinois, who was named MAAC Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 9 for his seven-save shutout performance against Fordham on Sept. 7, was his 10th shutout as a Bronc.
Bourret, who was responsible for both scores against La Salle, attributed Rider’s defense as a key factor in the victory.
“I think it was a good first home game,” Bourret said. “We wanted to come strong, and I think we did a good job. I think we did well defensively and the score was a team effort, everyone is going to enjoy it and now we have to look forward to the next game.”
The Broncs outshot La Salle by a wide margin. Rider put up 17 shots, with nine of those attempts having been on goal. Though La Salle put half of its shots on goal, it only mustered four shots in 90 minutes of play.
Inverso gave credit to the Broncs’ ability to limit La Salle’s time with the ball.
“I thought [in] the first half, we followed the plan of what we wanted to do, keep the ball. We really wanted to try to get back to keeping the game simple and I think we did,” said Inverso.
Bourret was grateful to finally play at home in a schedule light with matches at Ben Cohen Field.
“We don’t have a lot of home games this season,” Bourret said. “We wanted to come strong for our first home game.”
Inverso, like Bourret, was happy to be home. However, Inverso also saw the value in Rider’s play on the road.
“We kind of like as part of our culture to get road wins. I think road wins bond your team more than anything,” Inverso said. “You can have as many pasta parties (it is common for pasta to be catered to the Broncs after a home game) as you want, but in the end you have to play really tough on the road because you have so many obstacles against you.”
Rider hits the road to Loretta, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 21 to go against Saint Francis University at 4 p.m. The Broncs lost their only other matchup against Saint Francis, 3-0, in a 2010 home game.
The road trip will then continue to upstate New York when Rider takes on Stony Brook University on Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. to cap off non-conference play.
Despite the Broncs’ matchup with Stony Brook being the last of out-of-conference games for Rider, their road trip ends with the first MAAC matchup of the season against Fairfield on Oct. 2.
After only one home game in six matches to begin the season, the Broncs will play half of their 10 in-conference matchups at Ben Cohen Field, taking on Canisius on Oct. 5, Monmouth on Oct. 12, Manhattan on Oct. 16, Marist on Oct. 26 and 2018 MAAC tournament finalist Quinnipiac on Nov. 6 to finish the regular season.
Rider’s remaining road matchups during the conference season include games against Saint Peter’s on Oct. 9, Niagara on Oct. 19, Siena on Oct. 23 and Iona on Oct. 30. The Broncs’ lone in-state road matchup is against Saint Peter’s in Jersey City, New Jersey.
“We don’t mind going on the road,” Inverso said. “In the end, it makes us a better team.”