By Carolo Pascale
A senior day that was filled with excitement and pride was ruined for Rider women’s soccer, as Quinnipiac stole the show shutting the Broncs out 4-0 on Oct. 23, putting the team in a must-win scenario with their postseason hopes now coming down to the final game of the season.
“We did alright in periods. First half, I thought we had probably some of the better plays there. With a smaller squad and beat-up players, it’s just the game can get away from you very quickly. But I thought we competed hard,” Head Coach Drayson Hounsome said of the loss.
Before the game kicked off, the Broncs celebrated their six seniors in an emotional ceremony. Each senior had their family and friends with them, and the ceremony ended in a big group picture.
“It was really awesome to have my family here on senior day. They’ve come to a lot of games throughout the year, and it’s just disappointing we didn’t win,” said senior midfielder Ailis Martin.
But there was still a game to be played, and as soon as it kicked off, it was clear that Quinnipiac wanted just as much attention as the senior day festivities did.
The Bobcats got out to a fast start forcing Broncs sophomore goalkeeper Rachel Ross to make two saves inside the first nine minutes of the match.
Continuing their pressure, the Bobcats drew a foul inside the box in the 26th minute, earning themselves a penalty kick which they would capitalize on, giving them a 1-0 lead early in the match. The score stayed put the first half ended.
In the second half, the Broncs gave up a second goal in the 62nd minute, giving Quinnipiac a 2-0 lead.
Only five minutes later, Quinnipiac scored again, giving the Bobcats a 3-0 lead. But the Broncs had a bigger problem on their hands. On the goal, Ross slammed her back against the goalpost, laying face down in pain on the turf. The Broncs are already without fellow sophomore goalkeeper Ellie Sciancalepore, who is out for the rest of the season due to injury. Ross stayed down for a few minutes, eventually getting up and staying in the game, but she was constantly holding and stretching her back throughout the rest of the game.
The game played on; Quinnipiac scored one more goal in the 85th minute, and the game ended with a final score of 4-0. The Broncs only managed to register five shots throughout the game, their second-lowest shot total of the season.
Senior defender Niamh Cashin said “We have to take more chances. Just test their keeper and keep taking more shots. It’s all about desire and desperation on Wednesday. We have it all to play for. Our season ends if we don’t win.”
It’s now do or die for the Broncs, as they are tied with Manhattan for the last spot in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Women’s Soccer Playoffs. Both teams have one game left, with Manhattan taking on top seeded Monmouth, and the injury ridden Broncs taking on the 10-7 Iona Gaels.
Hounsome knows there is only one way left to get to the postseason.
“We have to win,” the experienced coach said bluntly.
When asked about what would happen if Ross is not available for the game against Iona, Hounsome responded, “We won’t play the game. If we’ve got no goalies we won’t play the game. So let’s hope she’s fit.”
The Broncs final chance to make the playoffs against Iona on Oct. 27 starts at 3 p.m. and will be streamed on ESPN+.