By Tom Albano and David Pavlak
The men’s soccer team (3-11-1, 2-3-1 MAAC) is preparing for its upcoming games against Manhattan (2-11-1, 1-4 MAAC) on Oct. 26 at 4 p.m., and against Saint Peter’s (4-10, 2-3 MAAC) on Oct. 28 at noon, both at Ben Cohen Field. These will be two of the final three games of the regular season.
The mindset for the Broncs has turned toward these two games as they look to put this past weekend’s games in their rearview mirror. Head Coach Charlie Inverso knows the magnitude of these games heading into the final weekend of regular season play.
“There’s contention for a playoff spot,” Inverso said. “These are two games we have to have. If we had gotten points on the road, it would have been easier for us.”
The Broncs will need to focus on one game at a time, according to junior back Eric Elgin.
“Historically, our team has done well against both opponents, but there is no such thing as an easy game in our conference,” Elgin said.
When it comes to strategy, Inverso said that defense is a key component for the Broncs.
“It starts with us defending better and obviously everything falls in after that,” Inverso said. “It’s not just defending. We have to put two halves of soccer together.”
Elgin feels that the offensively minded team will be the one that comes out on top.
“We have to be aggressive in order to win these remaining games and hopefully this strategy will pay off in an unexpected run to the post-season,” Elgin said.
The team knows how important these games are and welcomes the pressure that they will face.
“I feel good about our chances,” Inverso said. “We’ve come a long way. [We] move the ball better since last year. Possession is a big part of good soccer. If you’re chasing after the other team or the ball keeps switching back and forth, that’s not good. We’ve shown signs we can play [better], and we can play well against teams in terms of possession.”
Elgin is confident that the Broncs will come out on the winning side of things.
“We have to win both games,” Elgin said. “I think our team will respond well to the pressure and be motivated to play hard for the entire weekend. It is exciting that we have such important games this weekend and our team is looking forward to the opportunity to prove to the conference that we belong amongst the top teams.”
Rider comes into this weekend after losing two games on the road — a 3-0 loss to Fairfield and a 6-5 loss to Iona.
“Fairfield and Iona are both very talented teams,” Elgin said. “Unfortunately, we came out flat to start both games and it cost us. Good teams take advantage of mistakes and they made us pay for the early mistakes that we made.”
Inverso feels that the team dynamics took a little getting used to and caused the slow start for the team.
“We are a polarized team,” Inverso said. “The team is comprised of seniors and freshmen. It takes a while to get that chemistry going. It’s starting to come around and be better. I think it started with the win against Lafayette.”
That 1-0 win against Lafayette was the Broncs’ first of the season.
“Once we won our first game, guys started believing and trusting in one another on the field,” Elgin said. “Everyone began playing with more confidence once we got on a roll and it has resulted in the team being more effective both offensively and defensively during games.”
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