By Christopher Brooks
With new seasons come new opportunities, but the women’s soccer team was unable to find them in its first ever match-up against Bucknell.
The Broncs (1-2, 0-0 MAAC) opened their season Aug. 23 in Lewisburg, Pa. Though the team had high hopes of finding a connection, it did not play its best match, giving up early goals in both halves, and eventually fell 3-0 to the Bisons (2-2, 0-0 Patriot League).
Freshman goalkeeper Vanessa Perdomo played the first half, making four saves while allowing one goal. Fellow freshman goalkeeper Bethany-May Howard took over in the second half, recording five saves and surrendering two goals. Senior back Carolyn Wiley had the only pair of shots on goal for the Broncs, but was unable to find the back of the net.
The team played in the opening match without the help of senior forward Jennifer Meier, who was sidelined with an injury.
“Being a team with nine new players, I feel we just needed more time and experience playing together prior to that game,” Meier said.
The Broncs were able to turn it around at home on Aug. 30 with a 3-1 victory against Bryant (1-3, 0-0 NEC).
The youthfulness of the Broncs paid off when freshman forward Michelle Iacono scored her first collegiate goal early in the second half.
“Playing at home always has such an incredible vibe to it,” freshman midfielder Sorren Henderson said. “I think everyone is nervous, it’s our home opener and it’s a big game.”
Meier, who returned from her injury, did not seem to be nervous at all, scoring two goals and adding one assist.
On Sept. 1, the Broncs continued their season against Farleigh Dickinson (FDU) (2-1, 0-0 NEC) in Teaneck N.J.. FDU found the net early and forced the Broncs to play from behind. Even though Rider outshot FDU, they would go on to lose 2-0.
The women continue play on Sept. 6 when they host Mount Saint Mary’s (1-3, 0-0 Patriot League).
Last season the Broncs had an overall record of 10-4-3, which gave them the highest winning percentage (.676) in program history, but lost their final game to Marist 1-0, ending their post-season hopes.
“It was definitely upsetting falling one game short, but it gives us returning players that much more drive to reach our goals this season,” Wiley said. “We are a totally new team this year, so we are just focusing on playing our way, our style.”
The developing Broncs, who were picked to finish fourth in the MAAC pre-season poll, carry a roster filled with new team members. The recruiting class of 2013 brings 10 new players, including four international recruits.
“With 10 new players, it is a totally different team,” Head Coach Drayson Hounsome said. “The whole recruiting class is extremely talented and it is exciting to go to practice every day seeing how they are progressing.”
Henderson, who joins Rider from New Zealand, is eager to test the waters of United States competition.
“A big draw for Rider was the level of soccer here,” she said. “It’s a completely different game compared to back home; it’s so much quicker and far more physical.”
Although Hounsome’s team is predominantly freshmen, he has five seniors returning this season.
Meier, a veteran of 52 games, enters her final season at Rider fifth in all-time points with 45. With her fellow upperclassmen, she expects to help the new recruits adjust to the pressure of college competition.
“It is important that we are able to guide them through this process and get them acclimated to the team and school as quickly as possible,” Meier said. “This will help them to feel comfortable with us both on and off the field.”