By Stephen Neukam
Senior forward Kourtney Cunningham helped the women’s soccer team overcome conference rival Manhattan 1-0 on Oct. 10, yet the team suffered a defeat at Siena 1-0 on Oct. 13.
In the game against Manhattan, Rider controlled the pace of the entire match. In the 40th minute, Cunningham made an incredible run with the ball from the midfield to the 18-yard-box and fired the shot into the top left corner of the goal that gave the Broncs a 1-0 lead.
Rider saw the lead out to the end of the game. The Broncs finished with a shot total of 20 to Manhattan’s eight.
Cunningham’s goal was her team-leading seventh of the season. She had just five goals last season.
The goal also tied Cunningham for eighth in program history.
The win was Rider’s first over Manhattan since 2014 and its third conference victory of the season.
“[It was a] quality goal,” said Head Coach Drayson Hounsome. “We actually worked on a similar thing in practice during the week, attacking the defenders, running in the gaps with speed.”
Rider followed the victory over Manhattan with a tough defeat against Siena.
The match was even throughout. Siena registered just one more shot on goal than Rider. The Broncs’ sophomore goalkeeper Carmen Carbonell made six saves to keep the game close for Rider.
However, the Broncs’ defense lapsed in the 40th minute when Siena slotted the ball home inside the left side of the goal and gave the Saints a 1-0 lead.
The Siena defense held strong through the rest of the game and blanked the Rider offense for just the third time this season.
Siena moved to fourth in the conference with the victory.
The Broncs’ offense had sputtered of late, scoring one or fewer goals in six of its last seven matches.
Aside from the goal output of Cunningham, Rider had relied almost solely on the play of junior midfielder Valeria Pascuet.
Pascuet, who had scored four game-winning goals for Rider this season, had been directly involved with five of the last seven goals for the Broncs.
“I think that Valeria is such an important part of the team, we need her as a player because she is constantly working on the field,” said Carbonell. “She works hard, she supports us and her attitude is exemplary.”
Following the week of action, Rider sat at sixth in the MAAC with a 3-3-1 record.
Only three games remain in conference play. Rider is just one point behind the fifth-place spot and four points out of the top four.
Perched at the top of the standings was preseason-favorite Monmouth, followed by Marist in second and Niagara in third.
Rider’s next opponent, Quinnipiac, is the fifth-place team that the Broncs are chasing. The Bobcats will travel to Rider on Oct. 17 at 7 p.m.