By Shaun Chornobroff
When the final buzzer sounded at Ben Cohen field on Sept. 5, many players on the Rider men’s soccer team could be seen sitting down on the pitch with their hands in their head and an obvious aura of disappointment surrounding their bodies.
The scoreboard in the corner of the field, not far from the bleachers, displaying a 1-0 loss to the Saint Francis Red Flash, was not a welcomed sight among anybody associated with the Broncs.
“You’re never happy when you lose, it doesn’t feel too good,” Rider Head Coach Charlie Inverso said after Sunday’s crushing loss.
Playing its third game in seven days, a Rider team that prides itself on energy and possession appeared sluggish and unable to connect passes in the opening minutes of the game, finding themselves playing defense for long periods.
Despite the slow start, however, Rider was destined to take the lead with a hair over three minutes left in the first half when junior center back Lenny Cidolt rose over the Red Flash defense to get his head on a corner kick, only for goalkeeper Jonas Diesler to leap through the air and keep it out of the net.
In the 51st minute, Saint Francis earned a corner kick. Rider failed to properly clear the ball out of the box, and Jeff Thielman made the Broncs pay, burying the ball into the back of the net.
“We did a fairly decent job defending, then we just broke down on the corner kick. That’s where games are decided so many times, corner kicks and free kicks,” said Inverso.
From then on, Rider dominated the game, creating several opportunities, bringing the team within inches of tying the game. But no matter where Rider shot the ball, it did everything besides hit the back of the net.
In the 72nd minute, exciting senior midfielder Zaki Alibou retrieved the ball in the attacking end of the field and beat the Saint Francis defense like he had so many times prior. The only thing between him and his third goal of the season was the goalkeeper. Thus, Alibou opened his body, curled the ball around him, only for it to strike the crossbar and cause an audible gasp of shock from the crowd.
Nine minutes before Alibou’s chance, sophomore forward Justin Ruffino looked to have his first collegiate goal. Hitting the ball hard eight yards away from the net, Diesler recovered to get a body part on the ball and parry it over the net for his second miraculous save of the game.
Rider hit the post two other times in the second half and forced Diesler into another diving save with less than five minutes left, but never got a goal to show for it.
All in all, it was just that kind of day for Rider.
“We had a lot of minutes recently this week. So we came out slow, and we just tried to have some energy,” senior midfielder Taner Bey said of the loss. “A couple of chances didn’t go our way and we didn’t get what we wanted.”
Several inexperienced players had a chance to showcase themselves in the game, including junior goalkeeper Guillaume Veinante who made his first career start as a Bronc.
Veinante performed well, making three saves, including a diving save on a free kick in the first half.
After a grueling week, Inverso and the rest of the Broncs will finally have some rest and take the field again on Sept. 11 when they travel to Philadelphia to compete against La Salle.