By Steve Sica and David Pavlak
The women’s soccer team (9-3-3, 4-2-1 MAAC) will hit the road on Oct. 26 for a 3 p.m. match against Siena (6-9-1, 2-4-1 MAAC) before traveling to Marist (12-6, 6-1 MAAC) on Oct. 28 at 1 p.m. for its final two regular-season games of the year.
The Broncs have been on a winning streak lately, going 4-0-1 in their last five games, all against MAAC teams, which puts them in fourth place in the conference.
“The big change this season has been when we readjusted our game plan after the two losses earlier this year against Iona and Fairfield,” Head Coach Drayson Hounsome said. “This has helped us keep possession of the ball, and the goals keep coming from that.”
The two contests this weekend have big implications for the Broncs, who will be able to maintain their position in the conference heading into the MAAC playoffs if they win.
“The results of this weekend’s games will determine whether or not we go through to playoffs,” senior midfielder Claire Thompson said. “The good thing is, we are in control. We have done what we needed to do over the past five games. [We have been] unbeaten since our first weekend of conference games. I am looking forward to getting back on the field this weekend.”
Hounsome and the Broncs understand the importance of the games this weekend.
“We still have to solidify our position in the top four,” Hounsome said. “If we slip up, there will be other teams waiting to pounce, so we have to take care of business.”
The Broncs have seen success in the games they won when they had the majority of the ball in their possession. Thompson feels that it will be important to get off to a similar start this weekend.
“We need to possess the ball and control the tempo of the game,” Thompson said. “We are strong when we can keep the ball on the ground and play to feet. That’s when the opportunities come for us. We will attack these teams differently based on the scouting reports we get, but not on their standings. Nothing is a given in this conference. All the teams are competitive and not a single one should be taken lightly.”
Hounsome feels that the game against Siena will be a difficult first task since the school is in the same scenario as Rider.
“Siena and two other conference teams are competing for the same playoff spot we are, so the game against Siena is important for us to win,” Hounsome said. “We need to obviously end their season on their field Friday night.”
The Broncs were able to secure victories on Oct. 19 and Oct. 21 against Canisius (3-0) and Niagara (3-2). Not only did the games help the Broncs in the standings, they also boosted team morale, according to Thompson.
“We didn’t play our best game on Sunday, but we came away with the win, and that’s all that matters,” Thompson said. “On Friday night, we just completely dominated the game [by] possessing the ball for the greater majority of the time and capitalizing on the opportunities we created for ourselves. I think we went into this weekend truly expecting to win both, and we just played with that attitude. Losing simply wasn’t an option.”
If the Broncs are able to get a win against Siena, they will be in good shape to clinch a spot in the semi-finals, according to Hounsome. He believes that his team is capable, especially after the early part of the season.
“After we lost our first two conference games, our team made some changes, and since then we’ve gone 4-0-1,” he said. “Our offense has been clicking and our entire team is benefitting from that. As long as we keep scoring goals, we’ll be fine.”
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