By Carolo Pascale
After three long weeks, Rider women’s soccer finally returned home to the turf of Ben Cohen Field looking to break its five game winless streak and earn its first Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) play victory of the season. With the large home crowd behind them, the Broncs toppled Saint Peter’s in a dominating 3-0 shutout win on Sept. 24.
“We were able to work on a ton of things,” said Head Coach Drayson Hounsome. “We had to make changes, we made changes, we changed formation and I think the team responded in a positive way. A shutout scoring three goals, three points — it’s almost a perfect Saturday night.”
Right from the get-go, the Broncs were active and on the attack, forcing the Peacock’s goalkeeper to make multiple tough saves inside the first 12 minutes of the match. By the 15th minute, the Broncs had already gotten off four shots, with one from senior midfielder Lindsey Maslow going just left of the goal.
Rider kept the pressure on, and off a corner kick, senior midfielder Camryn Dees placed a perfect shot from just left of the 18-yard box off the post and into the top right corner of the net, giving the Broncs a 1-0 lead in the 23rd minute.
“It’s good to see us score off a short corner. We’ve worked on that a gazillion times, and it doesn’t often come off, but tonight it did,” said Hounsome. “She was able to catch it beautifully and put it in the top corner.”
Continuing off the one goal lead, like clockwork, the Broncs put another goal on the board just three minutes later in the 26th minute. This time, Maslow was able to break away from a defender on a thru ball pass from Dees and used some quick finesse to get around the Peacocks goalkeeper on the 1-on-1, giving the Broncs a quick 2-0 lead.
With the second goal, both Dees and Maslow already had three points on the night, Maslow’s first being the assist on Dees’ goal.
“I think we were playing a lot better as a team, and we’re moving the ball a lot better,” said Dees.
But the Broncs’ strong first half wasn’t over yet, when in the 43rd minute, senior forward Hailey Russell got a pass from Dees and fired a bullet of a shot from about 30 yards out that went just under the crossbar and in, giving Rider a comfortable 3-0 lead. The goal was Russell’s first of the season and was Dees’ second assist and fourth point of the night.
“It definitely feels good,” said Russell. “I’ve been struggling a little bit to get it in the net, so getting one in there definitely is going to help with the rest of the season and build my confidence.”
At the end of the first half, the Broncs held a 3-0 lead and four shot advantage over Saint Peter’s, leading 10-6. The formation change Hounsome mentioned created more offensive chances for the Broncs, as well as finally playing in front of a home crowd.
“So we reduced the number of forwards, but it kind of allows you to maintain possession a little bit better, which means we’ve had more of the ball,” said Hounsome. “I think part of it is being back home playing on our field which is a nice big field that suits us better than some other fields which are smaller and narrower and a little bit tougher for our style to play on.”
The second half didn’t see any goals by either team, but Rider came painstakingly close on several occassions. Senior forward Makenzie Rodrigues missed a shot just wide of the top-right corner in the 50th minute, graduate student midfielder Anna Barkey’s header was robbed by the Peacock’s goalkeeper in the 60th minute and Russell was denied by the crossbar in the 77th minute.
Once time expired, the Broncs had finally secured a win for the first time in five games and earned their first MAAC win of the season. Rider took the final edge in shots and shots on goal, with 15 shots and seven hitting the net, while Saint Peter’s took 13 shots and could only muster two on target.
“We said to them before the game that the only thing that mattered was that we had to be better than Saint Peter’s,” said Hounsome. “So we will take that, that tonight we were better than Saint Peter’s where it mattered.”
Dees finished with four points on the night, while Maslow had three. Dees was also named MAAC Offensive Player of the Week for her performance in the match.
“One of the things with changing the formation is it gives players like her the ability to flourish more,” said Hounsome. “She doesn’t have to do as much defending and she can really get on the ball and create things and do things and she did that tonight.”
In goal, junior goalkeeper Ellie Sciancalepore had a relatively easy night, only having to make two saves, while earning her fourth clean sheet of the season.
The Broncs, now 1-1 in MAAC play and 4-3-2 overall, go back on the road once again to take on the Manhattan Jaspers on Sept. 28.