By Corey Donetz
Rider’s women’s soccer team saw its season come to a close this past weekend as it fell to Canisius in the semifinals of the MAAC tournament.
Rider (9-8-2, 5-4 MAAC) held Canisius to just one shot on goal, but that one shot found the back of the net. Freshman Brianna Smith scored in the 28th minute on a cross from the outside left to give Canisius an early lead. Canisius (14-6, 7-2 MAAC) wouldn’t relinquish that lead and went on to win a nail-biter, 1-0. The Broncs won four of their final five conference games to clinch the final playoff spot.
Rider outshot Canisius 9-5 in the first half but couldn’t score a goal. Rider continued to dominate possession for most of the game and held Canisius to just three shots for the entire second half. None of those shots in the second half was on target.
“We played a great game and really dominated the match from start to finish,” said head coach Drayson Hounsome. “They had two good chances and scored off one of them. So, the result was very disappointing, given the way we controlled the game.”
Rider outshot Canisius 16-8 for the game, including a 6-1 advantage with shots on goal. Sophomore Abi Cottam and freshmen Jennifer Meier and Bridgette Bartkowski combined for 13 shots, including all six of the Broncs’ shots on goal.
“Our team played so well on Friday,” said Bartkowski. “We should have won the game but we just couldn’t pull through. Our team is so talented, all 24 of us are good players and contribute our own style of the game.”
Cottam was named to the All-MAAC Second Team. She led the team with eight goals, 21 points, five game-winning goals, and was also tied for team high with five assists.
Hounsome was recognized for his success by being named the MAAC Coach of the Year.
“It is rewarding to be recognized by the conference and an honor,” said Hounsome.
Hounsome led the Broncs to their first top-four finish in more than five years. Rider finished tied for fourth in the conference after being picked to finish ninth out of 10 teams in the preseason.
Meier, Bartkowski and fellow freshman Becca Kape were named to the MAAC All-Rookie team. Combined, the three freshmen started nearly every game and were all big contributors to the team. Meier was second on the team with six goals and 15 points.
“I was very pleased that the conference recognized the hard work and time that I had put in,” said Meier. “It’s great for the team as a whole for three players to be named to the all-rookie team.”
Cottam and 10 others were named to the MAAC All-Academic team for their high grade point averages.
“We’re graduating a group of very strong leaders so replacing them will be vital to next year’s success,” said Hounsome. “The goal is to take the program into the NCAA tournament so the expectations for the future are high.”