By Benjamin Shinault and Matthew LoPuzzo
While Rider men’s soccer added a loss and tie to its record in its latest matches, the Broncs began to show signs of growth, having their most successful offensive week in over a month.
In a two-game homestand, the Broncs fell to Mount St. Mary’s 3-2 on Oct. 19 before tying Marist in a 2-2 effort on Oct. 22.
‘A little unlucky’
On a cold Wednesday night, the Broncs were due for a match up with Mount St. Mary’s. Rider hasn’t played the Mountaineers since 2011. With Rider only a few points back from a spot in the playoffs, they played with intensity throughout the match, but it was not enough to put them on top as they lost 3-2.
“Everybody worked hard. We were a little unlucky,” said Head Coach Charlie Inverso. “We outshot them but too many breakdowns in the back, and that’s been our Achilles heel all year.”
Both teams came out firing in the first half, each scoring a goal, but the Mountaineers went into the break with a 2-1 lead
The scoring was started by graduate student defender Nick Cruz who never scored a goal in his collegiate career. He scored off a loose-ball around the 18-yard box and blasted it in the net.
Not even 10 minutes later, the Mountaineers scored an equalizer, as Jesus Salazar of Mount St. Mary’s scored off a sloppy clearance by the Broncs.
To make matters even worse, another 10 minutes wouldn’t go by without another goal for Mount St. Mary’s.
Down by a goal, Inverso wanted to make some adjustments in the second half, ultimately opting for aggression by moving senior defender Lenny Cidolit up.
The Broncs went on to tie the match off the foot of junior forward Babacar Diene who scored off a rebound from graduate student defender Regis Dulck.
Unfortunately, based on how the match was going, a tie or a lead wouldn’t stick around for long as Kofi Amoah of Mount St. Mary’s would kick one in giving the Mountaineers the late lead and eventually the win.
With every game for the Broncs being a must-win for their playoff hopes to remain alive, Rider battled the Marist Red Foxes who also had to play their best for the same objective. Both the Broncs and Red Foxes had their chances to steal two points but couldn’t finish the job, with the game ending in a 2-2 draw.
With both teams’ seasons on the line, they came out firing, with a strong push from the Red Foxes early resulting in a goal, although it was called back for a handball.
It was a scrappy game on both ends and a tackle in the box gave the Broncs goal-scoring leader junior midfielder Adel Al Masude a penalty kick to push the momentum in favor of the Broncs. Al Masude approached the kick very methodically but Marist goalie Samuel Ilin made a miraculous save to keep the game tied.
Not capitalizing on that opportunity, the Broncs now found themselves down 1-0 in the 27th minute after Marist found the back of the net to put the Red Foxes on the board.
“[We] battled back. [We’ve] done that a lot this year, done that a lot in the past,” said Inverso after the game.
And battled back the Broncs did. On a rebound from Diene who created most of the scoring opportunities this game, he knotted the score up at one, sending the game into a tie at the half.
“I said in my mind, if I got the chance, I would execute,” said Diene.
It didn’t take long for the fireworks to go off, as eight minutes into the second half, the Broncs had a costly penalty in the box that Marist capitalized on.
“For a team that’s had a stagnant offense for a good part of the year, I mean we’re scoring some goals in the last couple of games,” said Inverso.
The game-tying goal came from Cidolit, as a redirected ball by a Marist defender put the ball in the net to knot things up.
The story of the game had to be the amount of chances both teams had to open things up, but neither could pull away in a must-win situation for both. The game was very touchy in the late half of the second half with both teams pushing and shoving.
A late offensive push by the Red Foxes was not meant to be as the Broncs defense held up.
“I think it showed today when we keep focus and we’re still organized, we can be really strong defensively, especially in moments like that,” senior goalkeeper Guillaume Veinante said.
“We play Siena and they have to win too, so I think we just go out and play straight up,” Inverso said of his team’s next match, a must-win matchup for the Broncs against the Saints on Oct. 26.