By Carolo Pascale and Hannah Newman
After a pair of tough 1-0 losses last week, the Broncs squared off against two top Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) opponents in Quinnipiac and Niagara on Oct. 12 and Oct. 15. This week went similarlly to the previous, as the Broncs were rocked in a 5-0 loss to the Bobcats, and were shut out again against the Purple Eagles three days later, falling by a score of 1-0 for the third time in the last four games.
Rider has now been shut out in the past four matches, the longest scoreless drought in the program’s 25-year history. The four-game skid the Broncs are currently on ties last year’s four-game losing streak as the longest since the 2017 season, where the Broncs lost seven-straight to start the year.
Coming into the game against Quinnipiac, the Broncs had come off a heartbreaking loss to Fairfield, where Rider was outshot 26-2. The shooting disparity continued as the Bobcats also put up 26 shots in a 5-0 shutout against the Broncs.
Head Coach Drayson Hounsome said, “The team competed hard and didn’t quit for 90 minutes.”
The Bobcats came out hunting for a quick goal, getting off four shots inside the first 15 minutes of the match.
In the 17th minute, the Bobcats were awarded a penalty kick after a player from each team got tangled up inside the box. Broncs junior goalkeeper Ellie Sciancalepore correctly chose which way MAAC preseason player of the year Rebecca Cooke was going to go and kept the game even.
“I wasn’t worried about the PK [penalty kick], nor was I mad about the call,” said Sciancalepore. “I had a bit of confidence going into it, having played against their PK shooter for a few years now and becoming familiar with how she likes to shoot. From there, I picked up that she was going bottom right and I made the save.”
Quinnipiac continued the pressure and scored its first goal in the 23rd minute, then scored again in the 34th, giving themselves a 2-0 lead which the Bobcats would take into halftime.
By the end of the first half the Bobcats had amassed 13 shots while Rider had one.
The second half of the match didn’t go any better for the Broncs as they allowed three more goals in the 47th, 50th and 74th minutes that inflated the Bobcats lead to 5-0.
The Broncs were able to take six shots in the second half, but Quinnipiac put up 13 again, making it four straight halves where Rider allowed 13 shots or more.
Despite the team’s rough outing, Sciancalepore made double-digit saves for the second straight game, stopping 12 of the Bobcats 17 shots on goal.
“Losing is never fun, and losing is never ideal, but we have a group of girls who are hungry for a win now,” said Sciancalepore. “We have the personnel and the desire to go far this year in MAACs, and these games are only a form of motivation moving forward.”
‘This game needs to be motivation’
After a penalty kick gave Niagara a 1-0 win, the Broncs refused to leave their Senior Day game feeling defeated. With the thought of playoffs weighing on their minds, Rider proceeded to move forward leaving adversity behind them and playoffs coming up in their near future.
“Nobody wants to lose, and although the past few games have been tough, we see this as an opportunity moving forward. We have goals as a team and playing in the MAAC’s is one of them,” said Sciancalepore.
On Oct. 15 at Ben Cohen Field, the fight to get closer to the playoffs began strong as the Broncs put their best foot forward on the field. After four saves by Sciancalepore, and hard fought play from the Broncs, the first half ended goalless for both teams.
Freshman center back Olivia Smith said, “We were dominating the first half, and had many opportunities, and we just couldn’t get the ball in the net.”
The only goal of the game came from a penalty shot as a result of a handball in the box, which gave Niagara the victory in the 76th minute.
“I think this game needs to be motivation for our future games because in the position our team is in right now we need to win our next three games to get into the playoffs for the MAAC,” said Smith.
Hounsome felt this loss was not in the hands of his team and the drive to reach the playoffs remained strong after a fourth consecutive loss.
“A ‘questionable’ handball call was decided by the official and the opposition were awarded an unexpected penalty kick,” said Hounsome. “We played well Saturday and deserved to get something from the game but in soccer you don’t control the outcome.”
Despite coming out of this game defeated, the Broncs did not let this result lessen the value of their Senior Day.
“The next three games determine whether we achieve that goal or not, and with a group of girls who are hungry for a win, we are excited looking at the three games ahead,” said Sciancalepore.
The Broncs will continue the battle to playoffs on Oct. 19 at Mount St. Mary’s, taking on the Mountaineers at 7 p.m.