By Aidan Brager
After a climactic Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament victory, Rider men’s soccer’s season ended after a loss in the NCAA Tournament to the University of Vermont on Nov. 16 by a score of 3-1.
The scoring started in favor of the Catamounts, with the first goal coming in the 23rd minute.
A Catamount rocketed the ball into the Bronc’s defensive third, with the pass landing at the feet of another Vermont playeri, who took one touch and placed the ball into the bottom right corner to give Vermont a 1-0 lead.
Just five minutes later, Vermont sent another shot over sophomore goalkeeper Adam Salama’s head, increasing the Catamount’s lead to 2-0.
In the first half, Rider was outshot 9-3, an unusual occurrence considering the Broncs frequently put pressure on their opponents very early in their games this season.
Head Coach Chad Duernberger said, “We’ve always tried to be a team that scores early….We just didn’t have it today.”
The first half ended with the Catamounts up 2-0.
It took until the 80th minute for Rider to mount a comeback effort, which began with senior forward Babacar Diene, the team’s leading goal scorer.
Graduate student forward Zaki Alibou delivered a pinpoint cross into the box, with the ball landing on Diene’s head for a well-executed goal to cut the deficit to one.
The comeback attempt was stopped in its tracks when the Catamounts won a penalty kick in the 86th minute, taking the lead back to two.
The clock ran out on the game and Rider’s season, as a third Vermont goal sealed the Catamount’s victory. The Broncs lost 3-1 in a hard-fought match, battling until the final whistle.
Duernberger said, “Overall, not the day we wanted, but really happy with the fight and the pride for Rider that these guys have shown.”
Rider’s final record amounted to 12-4-4, a successful first season under Duernberger, as they look to improve in the offseason and go all the way next year.