By Aidan Brager
Rider men’s soccer crushed Saint Peter’s on Senior Night to close out their regular season campaign, the Broncs going on to win their quarterfinal game against the Marist Red Foxes.
Rider men’s soccer showed out on Senior Night, winning 4-1 against the Saint Peter’s Peacocks on Nov. 1 in a dominant fashion thanks to a hat trick from senior forward Babacar Diene.
For the first 20 minutes of the match, both teams battled it out for chances but were unable to connect; however, midfielder Saad Chaouki soon changed that.
Chaouki received a well-placed pass from Diene and swiftly dribbled through the defense before putting a low shot past the Peacocks’ goalkeeper to give the Broncs the lead.
The score stayed at 1-0 for the rest of the half, but the stat sheet told a different story.
In the first half, Rider ripped off 10 shots, forcing the Peacocks’ keeper to make three saves. The Broncs’ first-half defense was just as good as their offense, allowing just two shots, neither on goal.
Head Coach Chad Duernberger said, “When you’ve got such a strong backline it gives you a confidence to be able to go and attack … they’re getting better by the game which is something that I love to see … It’s a fun group to work with.”
The second half kicked off similarly to the first, with the Broncs using their great passing to get significant chances on goal while playing tough defense.
Duernberger said, “We talked at halftime and changed a few things, really just [saying] ‘We can’t keep this at 1-0 with the dominant performance we were having.’”
In the 54th minute, the man of the match, Babacar Diene, had his name called again. He dribbled past the Peacocks’ defense and took a powerful shot on goal which flew past the keeper to give the Broncs a 2-0 lead.
Diene’s night didn’t end there, though, as just five minutes later he was there to clean up a mess in front of goal, knocking the loose ball into the net to increase the Broncs’ lead to three and his goal tally to two.
Less than 10 minutes later Diene did it again, securing his third goal of the night by knocking a through ball from graduate student forward Zaki Alibou just past the keeper to complete his hat trick and give Rider a 4-0 lead.
Duernberger sang his praises for Diene: “Love that guy. He gives everything for me. Everything I ask of him he does … I’m just so happy for him, he trains so hard every single day … I’m proud of him.”
Diene was the Broncs’ leading scorer coming into the game and with the hat trick, finished off the regular season with 10 goals in 16 games.
“It means a lot [to] me, because I am a senior and this is my last year. I am so happy,” said Diene. “We have an important game coming up, so we have to go again.”
Unfortunately for the Broncs’ defense, they couldn’t maintain the clean sheet, gifting a penalty shot and subsequent goal to Saint Peter’s in the 85th minute.
This victory gave Rider a four-game win streak heading into their Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament match.
“[I] don’t want to make it bigger than it is and make us tense and nervous on Sunday,” said Duernberger. “[The message] stays pretty similar. It’s been that way all season as far as what we want to do and how we want to play.”
Rider men’s soccer will advance to the MAAC Tournament semifinals after a dominant 3-1 win at home against Marist on Nov. 5.
It was a sunny afternoon at Ben Cohen Field as the Broncs prepared to take on the Marist Red Foxes in a highly anticipated showdown. Coming into the game, Rider had won four straight and looked to carry that momentum into the tournament.
When asked what the impressive win streak meant to the team heading into the playoffs, Duernberger said, “No matter if we win, lose or tie, the next day we’re back in the lab working on our game, no matter the last result.”
The game kicked off with Rider getting many early chances on goal due to its ability to keep possession.
It wouldn’t be long until Diene made his mark on the game.
Just 15 minutes into the match, Diene had space on the left side of the field. He took a touch inside and rocketed a shot toward the goal. Diene placed his shot perfectly, fitting the ball into the upper-right corner and making the shot impossible to save. The goal gave Rider a 1-0 lead.
Rider used its quick passes to wear down the Marist defense to create chances. This was on display on the Broncs’ second goal which came just before the 40-minute mark.
Sophomore midfielder Momo Diop passed into the box to Chaouk, who gave it right back to Diop, slotting the ball into the bottom-right corner and extending the Broncs’ lead to 2-0.
The half ended with Rider up 2-0 in addition to dominating the shot category, having 10 compared to Marist’s three.
In the second half Marist changed its gameplan, playing more aggressively and doubling its first-half shot total.
Still, Rider’s passing was too much for the Red Foxes to handle, which was proven by the Broncs’ third goal, which came in the 62nd minute.
Alibou sent a pass to sophomore midfielder Luke Kirilenko in the middle of the field just outside of the box. Kirilenko took a low shot which dribbled past the keeper to extend Rider’s lead to 3-0.
“I felt like we lost a little bit at the beginning of the second half, but the goal really helped,” said Duernberger.
Marist attempted a comeback, beginning with the Red Foxes converting on a penalty kick to make the score 3-1.
Unfortunately for Marist, the goal was not enough and Rider held on for the win, advancing to the MAAC Tournament semifinals.
“I’m really happy for this group,” said Duernberger. “Overall just pleased with how we finished the game … I’m just really happy for the guys.”
The Broncs will look to continue their championship run, preparing for a semifinal match at Siena on Nov. 9 at 1 p.m.