By Carlos Toro
The women’s soccer team and Monmouth took to the turf at Ben Cohen Field on Oct. 5 to determine which squad would remain unbeaten.
What resulted was Rider’s most lopsided defeat of the season, 6-0.
However, on Oct. 8, the Broncs rebounded with a win against defending conference champion Siena, 1-0.
Against Monmouth (8-4-1, 5-0 MAAC), Rider trailed almost immediately, as the Hawks got on the board with a goal off a corner kick in the fourth minute of the game. Monmouth’s senior forward Alexis McTammey launched a corner kick, which junior defenseman Miranda Konstantinides headed toward the net, and redshirt senior forward Rachel Ivanicki finished the opportunity with the goal.
Monmouth scored again 12 minutes later to double its lead. While Monmouth did not score again in the first half, the visiting Hawks defense had a formidable first half, not allowing a Rider shot in the opening 45 minutes.
An offensive onslaught ensued in the second half with four more unanswered goals.
Junior midfielder Ellie Smith said the team was surprised and disappointed by the result. She thought the Broncs were ready to play.
“We really can’t put our finger on what happened [in the game],” she said. “It wasn’t like our spirit or belief wasn’t there; we were all up for the game and knew it was our best shot. I think conceding [a goal] so early knocked our confidence, and then the second goal came so quickly. We just hadn’t seen that yet and we didn’t respond correctly.”
Instead of Rider (8-3-2, 5-1 MAAC) coming back and starting the second half strong, Monmouth scored twice in the first eight minutes. Rider couldn’t muster any offense, as Monmouth kept running up the score. The Broncs only managed to get two shot attempts in the second half as Monmouth gave Rider its largest defeat this season, by a score of 6-0.
Senior goalkeeper Bethany-May Howard said the blowout loss was the kind of thing that is bound to happen at some point in the season.
“I don’t think we ever really went off track,” she said. “Everything is still to play for and we really didn’t expect to go unbeaten through the whole season. We shouldn’t let one loss hurt us in the grand scheme of things. The key to winning is taking it one game at a time.”
Smith said that the team does not need to adjust anything if the Broncs meet the Hawks again in the conference tournament.
“We just have to play the way we play,” she said. “There isn’t a point in changing the way we press just to fit another team.”
On the road against Siena (6-4-3, 4-1 MAAC), the Broncs’ defense had a solid game, especially Howard, who had nine saves in the contest. She now has five shutouts this season.
Rider got on the board in the first half, when Smith scored in the 29th minute of the match. Thanks to an assist by junior back Caroline Healy, Smith scored on a give-and-go down the middle and finished on the inside right post.
Siena, like Monmouth, put a lot of pressure on Rider, taking 20 total shots in the game. Howard and the defense did everything in their power to avoid another blowout defeat. The Saints increased their pressure as the game progressed. Of the 20 shots made by Siena, 13 of them were taken in the second half, as Rider won the game 1-0.
Smith said the win against Siena was a major confidence booster.
“It was huge to get back to our winning ways, and it was even better to do it against the defending champs,” she said. “It wasn’t easy going to their place and playing on grass — something we aren’t used to. But we gave 110 percent.”
Rider will host Manhattan on Oct. 12 and have its Senior Day on Oct. 15 against Marist.
The first round of the MAAC Championships is Oct. 29. The Broncs have made it to at least the semifinals the last three years, and won the tournament in 2014.