By Corey Donetz
Rider’s women’s soccer team returned home this past weekend trying to snap a three game losing streak against conference rivals Iona and Fairfield. The Broncs bounced back from their struggles with a 2-0 victory over the Iona Gaels on Friday night to snap streak, but couldn’t ride the momentum as they fell to Fairfield, 2-0, putting them at 6-7-2 overall and 2-4 in the MAAC.
The matchup with Iona (4-7-1 overall, 2-2 MAAC) was an evenly played game for most of the first half, but Rider started to get in its groove in the second half. The game remained scoreless until sophomore forward Abi Cottam scored on a through pass from freshman Bridgette Bartkowski from 10 yards out.
“Friday night was really exciting,” said Cottam. “We’d been dominating the whole half and when Gette passed a fantastic through-ball to me I knew I had to finish it.”
The goal was Cottam’s team-high seventh of the season, while sophomore Meghan Mohr was credited with an assist on the play.
Rider continued to dominate the second half as freshman Jennifer Meier tacked on an insurance goal 80 minutes in. Senior Kimberly Reichel and sophomore Demi Mello assisted the goal. Rider only outshot Iona by three, but had an overwhelming advantage in shots on goal, 7-1.
Senior goalkeeper Alex Post continued her stellar play by recording her fourth shutout of the season.
“We absorbed the pressure that Iona was placing on us, and we did not panic. There were times when Iona had the ball for longer than us, but the entire team stayed composed,” said Post. “The entire team knew that we needed the win, and everyone was on board and ready to play.”
Following the win against Iona, the Broncs didn’t fare as well against Fairfield (3-5-5 overall, 2-2 MAAC).
“I thought we controlled the possession against Fairfield on Sunday,” said head coach Drayson Hounsome. “[We] just need to take care of the opportunities in front of goal.”
Fairfield scored an early goal in the 25th minute, and although Rider outshot the Stags 17-6, they simply couldn’t get one in the back of the net. Rider also had eight shots on goal to Fairfield’s four. Meier led the team with three shots on goal, freshman Jody Sokol had two, and Cottam, Bartkowski, and senior Lauren Musumeci each had a shot on goal.
“They caused a lot of problems for the Fairfield defense on Sunday,” said Hounsome. “But unfortunately the Fairfield goalkeeper came up with some good saves.”
Fairfield scored another goal in the 70th minute to seal a 2-0 victory.
“Our team played fantastic on Sunday,” said Post. “But soccer is a game where a team can completely outplay the other, yet still lose.”
Despite the loss, Rider continued its high quality play at home.
“There are many factors why playing at home can lead to a better record than on the road,” Hounsome said. “The players are used to the surface of the field and the size of the field that we have at Rider and know the pace to pass the ball.”
Rider will look to bring some of its good play at home on the road this weekend against MAAC foes St. Peter’s and Manhattan.
Following a solid performance in its non-conference schedule, the Broncs have dropped four of their last five games. Post is confident though.
“All that we need to do in the final games of the season is to play exactly like we did on Sunday and Friday,” said Post.