By Carolo Pascale
A cure for the injury bug and a prayer were needed for the Rider’s men’s soccer team when they took on Manhattan in their Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) play opener. But there was no salvation for a Broncs team still without senior midfielder Guillamume Sarrabayrouse and reigning MAAC Offensive Player of the Year graduate student forward Zaki Alibou, as the Broncs were shut out for the fourth time this year, falling 3-0 to the Jaspers on Sept. 28.
“I’m not an excuses type, but we played without our two best players tonight, and we’re missing one of the best forwards in the country. It’s been difficult, but we have got to be mature and fight our way through it,” said Head Coach Charlie Inverso. “I’ll go to nine o’clock mass on Sunday and just hope they get better. That’s the only solution.”
The Broncs have been without Sarrabayrouse for the past three games and Alibou for six of the past seven. The two have been major losses for the Broncs on both sides of the ball, with Rider allowing the second most goals in the conference with 19, and sitting tied for 10th in goals per game with six.
Despite the injuries, the Broncs hoped they could get back on track with the opening of conference play, but the same scoring issues that have plagued the Broncs all year resurfaced as Rider was blanked yet again.
Manhattan opened the scoring in the 25th minute off a cross that was banged in by defender Ronaldo Da Silva at the left post.
The Jaspers continued to put pressure on senior goalkeeper Guillaume Veinante, but he made a few beautiful saves in the 28th and 43rd minutes to keep Manhattan’s lead at one at the end of the first half.
“I think it’s about the mentality, about the intensity we put into every play,” said Veinante. “We have to play aggressively defensively.”
The Broncs had a few chances in the half, with a shot by graduate student defender Nick Cruz going wide right in the 38th minute, and two corners being denied late in the half.
Rider was only able to muster two shots after the first 45 minutes, while the Jaspers had five, with three on target.
In the second half, Manhattan stayed on the attack, with Da Silva scoring his second of the game off another cross in the 54th minute, and Jaspers leading goal scorer, forward Johan Velez, scoring off a pass in the 61th minute to give them a 3-0 lead.
There weren’t many high chance opportunities for the Broncs in the second half, but one notable moment came off a high-flying bicycle kick by freshman midfielder Mo Bocher that nearly gave him his second career goal, but was stifled by the Manhattan goalkeeper.
With just over 11 minutes left in the match, Inverso decided to sub in freshman goalkeeper Ben Collins for Veinante, who had made four saves up to that point. Collins made two saves during his short stint in net.
The Broncs finished the match with five shots, two on target, while Manhattan finished with 13, and nine on target.
“There is no excuses, we played poorly tonight,” said Inverso. “It’s not a good feeling to be outworked. That’s not how we do things. I know that we can do better and we’ve got nine games.”
Rider will now go on the road for its next two games against Iona on Oct. 5 and Fairfield on Oct. 8.