By Cameron Fitzpatrick
A playoff berth was on the line this past week as the women’s soccer team hoped to earn its ticket to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) postseason tournament with two big games on the road against Canisius on Oct. 23 and Monmouth on Oct. 26.
Rider scored a 2-1 victory over Canisius. Both teams’ defenses were able to hold each other’s offenses from scoring for the entire first half of the contest.
The Broncs got on the board in the 77th minute as freshman forward Hailey Russell belted a shot to put Rider up 1-0.
Junior goalkeeper Carmen Carbonell maintained a shutout game until the 86th minute when a shot by Golden Griffin freshman midfielder Hannah Marpugo tied the game 1-1.
The Broncs needed a clutch performance to officially clinch a postseason spot. Russell helped that cause in the 99th minute when she scored her second goal of the game in overtime to secure the win for the Broncs, 2-1.
“Scoring [that goal] was a great feeling, especially to determine if we won the game or not and to get a secured spot in the playoffs,” said Russell, who extended her team-leading goal total to six, on her game-winning shot. “However, we win or lose as a team and it was a great team effort as everyone was determined to win.”
Russell’s efforts earned her MAAC Rookie of the Week on Oct. 28, the league announced.
The win secured at least a top-four seed for the Broncs in the MAAC Tournament. However, Rider’s next challenge came against the first placed Monmouth Hawks.
Head Coach Drayson Hounsome said that the team’s travels were a huge concern for the Broncs when it came to getting proper rest before the game.
“Travel fatigue plays such an important role in soccer performance,” Hounsome said. “The issue was magnified as we were playing in Buffalo and traveling seven hours there and back. Monmouth was provided seven days of rest, which is a significant disadvantage for any team to overcome.”
The Hawks went on to win the game 4-0 and clinch the top seed in the MAAC.
Russell and Hounsome spoke more about how the team will attempt to bounce back from the loss.
“Monmouth is a highly skilled team,” Russell said. “I think our team will respond well to this game. We need to step our game up when we meet them again. I think our team will push ourselves even more now, and fight to get a ring this year.”
“The team did their best, but in a fatigued state. Every pass, first touch, explosive action and movement was impaired around 30%,” Hounsome added. “Against any team that is fresh and fully rested, a 30% deficit in every area is very tough — almost impossible — to overcome. With appropriate rest and recovery, the game outcome would have likely been quite different.”
The Broncs will finish the regular season against Iona on Oct. 30 at Ben Cohen Field, then begin the MAAC tournament at home on Nov. 3.