By Trey Wright
After a down to the wire championship battle against Marist College last November, Rider men’s soccer got off to a rocky start to open its 2022 campaign, failing to win in the first three matchups of the season against non-conference opponents.
“We had a horrible start”
The preseason looked promising for the Broncs prior to play, with graduate student forward Zaki Alibou being named Preseason Player Of The Year for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), and Rider being ranked second in the preseason men’s soccer poll.
The hype train quickly derailed, however, as the Broncs opened the season in South Orange against in-state rival Seton Hall. The opening half saw swift scoring from the Pirates, tacking on three goals in rapid succession by the 24th minute.
Despite the seven saves that senior goalkeeper Guillaume Veinante made, Rider was unable to answer the lightning offense from Seton Hall, and were shut out 3-0 to open 2022.
“We obviously had a horrible start,” said Head Coach Charlie Inverso. “Perhaps it was the game plan we put in and, if so, I’ll take the hit. We moved things along well in the second half and we are going to be OK.”
‘We took a punch’
Rider was not OK when it took the field in Charlottesville, Virginia, as the Cavaliers torched the Broncs defense in the first half, netting four goals within the first 45 minutes.
Rider stayed competitive in the second half, outshooting the Cavaliers 5-0, but were once again unable to find the back of the net, resulting in back to back shutouts to kick off the year.
“[Virginia] is really fast, strong and skillful,” said Inverso. “We took a punch in the first half and could have quit, but we didn’t. This will only make us stronger and, in the end, it was a good experience.”
Signs of life
It looked to be another rough outing for the Broncs up at UPenn, with the Quakers sending two shots by Veinante to build an early two-goal lead..
“We gotta stop conceding goals especially in the first half of the game,” Skrocki said after the match. “We just have to start the game quick, and simply cannot concede in the first forty-five.”
However, the Broncs closed the door on a third straight shutout when sophomore Tom Skrocki netted his second career goal and the first goal of the season for the Broncs in the 38th minute.
Despite putting three shots on goal in the second half, the two early goals from UPenn were too much for the Broncs to muster through, as Rider fell to a 0-3 record to start the season.
“We dug ourselves in a hole again with a bad start; fouls in the back and giveaways are killing us,” said Inverso. “The road doesn’t get easier at Rutgers, but it is going to pay off soon.”
Still searching for a win, and with MAAC competition on the horizon, the Broncs face off against in-state foe Rutgers (1-1-1) on Sept. 9 on the road.