The women’s soccer team entered last weekend rejuvenated and excited to finally kick off MAAC competition; however, the Broncs didn’t fare well with their non-conference opponents before the conference start, dropping six of the nine contests, finishing with a 1-6-2 mark.
“The season has been very tough so far,” said first-year Head Coach Drayson Hounsome. “Our team morale is still high, but it’s been tough.”
Transitioning into MAAC play wasn’t going to be an easy task as the ladies faced their first test on Friday against Fairfield. The Stags came to Lawrenceville with an impressive 7-2-2 record and six MAAC championships under their belts. An offensively-driven team, Fairfield was in the top five of every offensive stat category for the league while boasting the second leading scorer in senior Ahna Johnson, who has fired in seven goals thus far.
With the offensive firepower, Hounsome and the Broncs set up a specific strategy and game plan for the Stags.
“We had a game plan coming in and the girls followed it tremendously,” said Hounsome.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to take down Fairfield, as Rider fell in a double-overtime thriller, 2-1.
The Stags got rolling early, scoring in the eighth minute of play and jumping to a 1-0 lead. The Broncs from then on displayed remarkable defense, and with less than 20 minutes left in regulation, Rider tied the contest off a loose ball shot by junior Kate Murphy.
The game remained knotted at one through the extra period as double overtime came and Fairfield increased the pressure. The Broncs held them off for the majority of the second O.T. until the final minute and a half. The Stags put an end to the nail-biter with an assisted goal from 10 yards out.
“We played with great discipline and energy,” Hounsome said. “It’s a shame we couldn’t pull it out.”
Fairfield outshot Rider 19-8, and 12-2 for shots on goal, while sophomore goalkeeper Alex Post made 10 saves in the losing effort.
The girls’ second matchup of the weekend was much more in their favor. Iona came to town with a very similar résumé as the Broncs. The Gaels stood at 1-11 overall and 0-1 in MAAC play, while entering last in the league in goals per game and surrendering the most goals.
Rider’s players didn’t show the heart and desire they did on Friday, and it cost them the game as the struggling Gaels shut out the Broncs, 1-0. Iona scored the first and only goal of the contest on an eight-yard shot 13 minutes into the second half. The loss put Rider at 1-8-2 overall and 0-2 in the MAAC.
“We didn’t have the same energy that we had Friday,” Hounsome said. “We just didn’t perform.”
The Broncs outshot Iona, and Post was yet again solid in the net, making seven stops. The sophomore standout is now 11th in the nation in saves per game with a 7.73 average. She has 85 total on the season, which ranks first in the conference.
“Alex has played very well,” Hounsome said. “She’s making more saves than I want her to [have to make], but she’s been great.”
With solid play from Post, Murphy and underclassmen Lauren Musumeci and Jordan Bunch, Rider looks to rebound against a very talented Manhattan squad.
“I saw them play Monday and they’re very good,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough game and we need a strong performance.”
The Broncs take on Manhattan tonight at 7.