By Carolo Pascale
After securing its first two Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) victories against Saint Peter’s and Manhattan, Rider women’s soccer hoped to keep the winning ways going in a two-game homestand against Iona and Fairfield. While both games were incredibly close, the Broncs were shutout by both the Gaels and the Stags in two consecutive 1-0 losses on Oct. 5 and Oct. 9.
A single play turns the tide
To say that this game was a battle of attrition would be an understatement.
Coming into the matchup between Rider and Iona, the teams records in conference play were only separated by a single win, with Rider having two to Iona’s one. On top of that, each team had a leading goal scorer with four goals on the year, with Rider having two players with four goals, those being senior forward Makenzie Rodrigues and senior midfielder Lindsey Maslow.
The fact these teams were so evenly matched coming into the game made it seem like it was going to be a slugfest. In the end, it was a battle of who made a mistake first. Unfortunately for the Broncs, they would blink first, leading to the shutout loss.
“I think our defenders matched up with their forwards and I think their defenders matched up with our forwards. So I think it was a close game,” said Head Coach Drayson Hounsome. “We’ve given them a goal for a second phase of a corner, which is an error on our part, and that’s that’s the difference maker.”
The first half saw junior goalkeeper Ellie Sciancalepore make a terrific save on a loose bouncing ball just before the 29th minute, which kept the game deadlocked at zero into the end of the first half.
After an even first half, about three-and-a-half minutes into the second, Iona was given a free kick essentially at the goal line on the left side. Sciancalepore was able to make the first save and bat the ball away, but the rebound was gathered up by the Gaels and fired just under the crossbar to make the score 1-0 in the 48th minute.
“I think we just could have done better at just getting our marks on the cross,” said freshman defender Olivia Smith. “We worked on this during practice, so it’s kind of disappointing seeing that happen because it almost happened last game.”
After Iona took the lead, the Broncs pushed for a goal but weren’t able to capitalize off any of their attempts, ultimately losing the game and being shut out for the first time since Sept. 3 against Temple.
By the end of the game, the stats were nearly identical with Iona only leading 9-6 in shots and 4-3 in shots on goal. One major difference in the game was the number of offsides for Rider, being called five times in the game.
“There were a few times that they caught us offside when usually other teams wouldn’t be offside. So that definitely took a blow,” said Rodrigues.
A staggering defeat
After the 1-0 loss to Iona, the Broncs had to face one of the conference powerhouses in the Fairfield Stags. Rider wasn’t able to outrun the Stags as the Broncs were once again shutout 1-0, and outshot by over 20 shots.
The Broncs weren’t able to do much against the fast-paced Stags as they ran riot in terms of shots. Fairfield was already piling on the shots, registering six through those first 15.
The Stags finally scored in the 29th minute off a cross in front that was perfectly placed at the six yard box where a Fairfield forward was able to smash a shot past a diving Sciancalepore to go up 1-0.
By the end of the first half, Fairfield had racked up 13 shots while Rider only managed one.
“We were offside quite a bit, so that’s something we just spoke to the team about, like those were a wasted opportunity,” said Hounsome. “So that’s lack of discipline, maybe a lack of soccer smartness. That would have given us more shots.”
Sciancalepore, despite allowing the goal, already had six saves in the match.
The second half didn’t go much better for the Broncs as the Stags once again rifled shots at the Rider net. By the 55th minute, Fairfield had already laid 20 shots on the Broncs defense. However, Sciancalepore stayed strong in goalmaking superb saves that kept the Stags from running wild.
As the game continued, Sciancalepore entered double digit save territory and was pushing her career high total of 14 saves she set last season against Monmouth, as well as the programs all-time single game saves record of 16. One of her second half highlights came in the 75th minute when she made her 12th save of the game on a partial breakaway to steal the ball away from a rushing Stag.
By the end of the game, the Broncs had only taken two shots, none of which went on target. Meanwhile, Fairfield took 26 shots, a staggering amount that the Broncs haven’t seen since Sept. 8 against Fairleigh Dickinson.
Sciancalepore finished the game with 13 saves, just one off her career high and three off the program record.
“It would have been huge to break the record and definitely it would be an honor. But you know, I’m still proud of today,” said Sciancalepore.
The Broncs now fall to 3-2 in MAAC play and 5-5-2 overall. Rider will go back on the road to face another conference powerhouse in Quinnipiac on Oct. 12.