By Stephen Neukam
The women’s soccer team snapped a three-game winless streak behind the strength of junior midfielder Valeria Pascuet as the team beat Iona away 3-2 on Oct. 3.
The first 10 minutes of the game were action-packed, with three goals scored in the span of 65 seconds. In the ninth minute, Pascuet scored the opening goal of the contest off a corner kick.
Only 18 seconds passed before senior forward Kourtney Cunningham doubled the Rider lead to 2-0 by scoring her sixth goal of the season off an assist from senior midfielder Sam Picinich.
The celebration for the Broncs was short lived as Iona pulled a goal back just 47 seconds later and put a dent into the Rider lead 2-1. Iona equalized in the 52nd minute, tying the game at 2-2 and putting Rider in another tough position against a MAAC opponent.
Fortunately for the Broncs, Pascuet continued her impressive season and scored from a free kick in the 60th minute from just outside the 18-yard box to secure a Rider win at 3-2.
“[It] was a tense game that could have gone very differently,” said Head Coach Drayson Hounsome. “For us, it was good to see how we controlled a possible [frustrating] situation and focused on the only thing that was important, which was to get the win.”
With the performance, Pascuet took the conference lead in points with 16 and notched her sixth goal of the year. Pascuet and Cunningham also rank second in the conference with their goal totals.
Perhaps even more impressive than the sheer offensive output of Pascuet, was her ability to perform in the clutch. She has scored three game-winning goals for the team so far this season, which was good for second in the conference.
The victory puts Rider at fifth in the conference, holding a record of 2-2-1 in MAAC play. Above the Broncs sat Niagara and Quinnipiac with 10 points and Marist and Monmouth with 12 each. Iona remained last in the conference.
Iona totaled just one point thus far in conference play. Only St. Peter’s finished with one or fewer points since the 2012 season.
Rider continues to play without standout freshman defender Niamh Cashin who is currently in Croatia playing for the England U19 women’s team in Union of European Football Association U19 Championship qualifying.
The team played all three of its games already, defeating Malta 9-0, Croatia 8-0 and Slovakia 4-0.
Cashin earned her first career start for the U19 team on Oct. 4, lining up at center back and playing all 90 minutes of the game. She appeared in the other two games as a substitute. England currently sits at the top of its qualifying group.
The team has missed Cashin, as the Broncs conceded just three goals in her three starts this season and held pre-season MAAC favorite Monmouth to a clean sheet in a game that saw Cashin score the game-winning goal.
Following that Sept. 16 victory, Cashin explained that the game would “build confidence” for the squad.
This was a confidence that may have been squandered during her absence, with the team posting a 1-2-1 record.
The Broncs will return home on Oct. 10 to face Manhattan at Ben Cohen Field at 7 p.m. The game will also be streamed on ESPN+.
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