By Paige McAtee
Rider’s women’s soccer team is determined this Halloween weekend to make some magic happen and appear in the MAAC tournament this season.
Rider is currently ranked 8th in the MAAC with a record of 2-3-2. The Broncs are competing in two games this weekend that will be crucial to the possibility of making the tournament. They will be taking on St. Peter’s (2-14-1, 1-6 MAAC) tonight at 7 before taking the field against Manhattan (3-11-2, 1-5-1 MAAC) on Sunday at 1 p.m.
These two games will be the last regular season games before the tournament gets under way. Only the top four teams are able to compete in the tournament.
“We have to win both games this weekend to give ourselves a chance at still making the playoffs,” Head Coach Drayson Hounsome said.
Junior Claire Thompson believes Rider has a shot to make the playoffs, but it may turn into a “toss-up” situation.
“Every game is different,” she said. “It’s never a given that we’re going to win.”
Hounsome is happy that the final two games are at home in front of the faithful soccer fans at Rider, which might help the women light a spark in the game.
“It will be good to be at home on the turf and especially to have a Friday night conference game under the lights,” Hounsome said.
St. Peter’s is currently ranked 10th in the MAAC.
On Sunday, the Broncs will be competing against Manhattan. The Jaspers are ranked 9th in the MAAC with a 1-5-1 record.
“Our chances of winning are good,” said Thompson. “We should dominate.”
Hounsome is proud of the determination that the Broncs have shown.
“The team is a very resilient group,” Hounsome said. “They’ll be fired up for both games after the disappointment of this past weekend.”
Last weekend the Broncs ventured out to New Rochelle, N.Y., and Fairfield, Conn. to play against Iona and Fairfield. Iona, ranked third in the MAAC, finished the game tied at 1-1 after double overtime. Fairfield, ranked fifth in the MAAC, defeated Rider handily by a final score of 4-0.
“There is a big home field advantage in college soccer, so it was disappointing not to get the away win,” Hounsome said.
In the game against Iona, Rider jumped into the lead with a goal by Junior Abi Cottam 7:53 into the second half. With less than two minutes remaining in the game, the Gaels tied the score. It was the sixth time this year that Rider would play extra time.
“Our ultimate goal is to win the conference tournament and it is getting close to crunch time,” Hounsome said. “The last weekend of the regular season will be an exciting time.”
Thompson said she thinks Rider has a good chance of becoming MAAC champions, but in order to win, the team has to be constantly working hard.
“We have to work hard every single day,” Thompson said. “We can’t switch off our game. We have to be working hard in every minute of every game and in practice.”