By Matt Burrill
Women’s soccer kicked off its MAAC schedule with a 1-0 victory over rival Siena (4-5, 0-1 MAAC).
The Broncs (4-3, 1-0 MAAC) struck early in the game with a goal from freshman forward Michelle Iacono in the 33rd minute. For Iacono, the goal was her third of the season and her first career goal against a MAAC opponent.
“I was able to get the right curve on the ball and put it in the corner of the net,” Iacono said.
According to Head Coach Drayson Hounsome, Iacono is a “diamond in the rough” for the program, and has been a major contributor so far this season.
“She’s a special player who can make special plays,” Hounsome said.
This trend of freshman success is prevalent among most of the fall athletic teams, but more so with women’s soccer.
Iacono is just one of nine players on Hounsome’s roster from the recruiting class of 2013. So far, the freshmen have accounted for four of the team’s nine goals scored this season. This can be taken as a sign of better things to come for this young squad, especially after winning a conference opener, something that Rider has been unable to do since 2010.
“We expressed the importance of the conference games to the freshmen to help prepare them for the quick pace and aggressive style of play,” Hounsome said.
The Broncs showed good defensive effort, with strong play from its defenders and two freshmen goalkeepers, Vanessa Perdomo and Bethany-May Howard. The duo worked together for its second shutout of the season, with Perdomo playing the first half and Howard finishing off the game in the second.
“We’ve got a couple of good goaltenders here,” Hounsome said.
Coming into the game, Rider knew that its play in the net would be essential, going against the MAAC’s leading scorer, senior forward Brittany Pfaff, who had nine goals in Siena’s eight previous games. However, she was unable to score, registering two shots in the game.
“When you’ve got people who can score goals, people who can stop goals, and people in between who work their butts off, you’ll get a good result,” Hounsome said.
Rider has enjoyed early success at home this year. With this most recent win over Siena, the team’s home record improved to 3-0.
“We love it here,” Iacono said. “The environment is great and we’re all hoping that it will continue here at home.”
The Broncs will have to leave the confines of Ben Cohen field as they set out on a three-game MAAC road trip that includes Canisius (2-7-1, 0-1 MAAC), Quinnipiac (1-4-1, 1-0 MAAC), and Marist (3-4-2, 1-0 MAAC).
“We’ve been doing great at home,” Iacono said. “Now we just need to bring that same intensity with us on the road.”
The Broncs will kick off their road trip on Sept. 25, when they travel northbound to Buffalo, N.Y., where they’ll square off with the Griffins of Canisius.
Hounsome knows conference matchups are the most important and hopes his team can be consistent down the stretch.
“It’s all about getting those three points in the standings and taking it one game at a time,” Hounsome said.