By Thomas Albano
With the fall sports seasons coming to a close, the women’s soccer season finished in Florida when the Broncs were eliminated in the second round of the MAAC tournament after a loss to the eventual champions, Monmouth, in the second round.
The first match for the fifth-seeded Broncs (9-8-1, 5-4-1 MAAC) took place on Nov. 1 in the quarterfinals against fourth-seeded Marist (8-10-1, 6-4 MAAC). The Broncs were able to win 2-1 and advance to the semifinal round.
Freshman backfielder Heather Maierlie thought her team performed well, despite going up against such tough opponents.
“We were able to show our true quality and got the result we wanted,” she said. “I think because we knew this was an elimination game, we were really motivated. We did not want our season to end and did everything we could to make it last.”
This win avenged a 5-0 loss earlier this season for the Broncs, their worst of the year.
The two goals came from freshman forward Caroline Healy and Maierlie, who also got an assist on Healy’s goal. Freshmen goalies, Bethany-May Howard and Vanessa Perdomo split time in the win. Howard played the second half and recorded all four of the Broncs’ saves. Rider was outshot 9-11, but recorded six shots on goal.
With the win over Marist, the Broncs moved on to the semifinals to play top seeded Monmouth (17-1-2, 8-0-2 MAAC) — the regular season MAAC champions.
Near the end of the first half, Monmouth opened the scoring and tacked on two more in the second half to send Rider home with a 3-0 loss.
Maierlie was pleased with the effort in the first half, but the morale among the players shifted after the first goal from the Hawks.
“Monmouth is a very high-quality team and I think we played well against them,” Maierlie said. “We fought hard the entire first half but then they scored with two minutes left in the half. It was very deflating.”
Rider only managed seven shots in the game, two of which were on target.
Sophomore defender Tara Ballay thought it was a rough end to what could have been something great.
“We were happy to make the semifinals of the tournament, but we were not happy with the overall result,” she said. “We felt we had the ability to contest for the overall championship, so losing a round early was tough.”
Ballay wished the season could have lasted longer, but felt the team really came together in the second half of the season.
“Looking back on the season, we feel like our team, despite rough losses earlier in the year, really hit our stride at the end of conference play and going into the MAAC tournament up to the final game against Monmouth,” she said.
Rider graduates six seniors including team captain Becca Kape, forward Jennifer Meier, who graduates third in career goals with 27 and fourth in career points with 67; forward Bridgette Bartkowski, who finishes fourth in career assists with 14; midfielder Sarah Cirigliano; forward Jody Sokol; and backfielder Carolyn Wiley.
Maierlie said even though the team did not win the tournament, this season can end on a high note.
“We are all very proud with how far we have come this season with such a young team and so many adversities. We are happy to have been able to represent our school in the semifinals, especially when there were only four schools left out of the 11,” she said.