By Benjamin Shinault
Fresh off a week with one win and one draw, Rider men’s soccer took a step back against Quinnipiac, getting shut out 3-0 on Oct. 12, and drawing 2-2 against Niagara on Oct. 15, as the Broncs’ search for consistency continues.
‘We had a defensive breakdown’
The Broncs held their own through the first half of Wednesday’s game against Quinnipiac, only allowing three shots; However, a momentary lapse on the defensive end nullified their entire body of work.
One of Quinnipiac’s three first half shots was a goal scored by Sam McCann in the 38th minute, which put Rider down early. McCann posed a problem for Rider’s backline throughout the match, giving them pre-Halloween nightmares.
“When you go down a goal, the most important thing is you want to make sure you don’t get stretched out to concede another goal,” said Head Coach Charlie Inverso.
Later on, Rider was exposed, allowing the Bobcats to attack for much of the second period. Rider wasn’t able to put a shot on target for the game’s final 65 minutes.
Rider has struggled with putting the ball in the back of the net all year. The Broncs came into the game, recently coming off a cold-streak of 19 straight days without a goal.
“We’ve been struggling all year with scoring,” said Inverso. “We had the ball down their end enough times in the first half.”
Junior midfielder Adel Al Masude took the bulk of those shots as he finished the game with five in all, four being on goal.
Throughout the game, most Rider shots sailed high over the net and a couple banged off the crossbar.
McCann scored his second goal of the game in the 55th minute off a well-executed header, resulting in another goal for the Bobcats.
In the latter stages of the second half, Quinnipiac’s Alexander Stjernegaard floated around the 18-yard box when the ball came his way, firing away with his right foot to put the nail in Rider’s coffin.
At the conclusion of the game, the main conflict affecting this year’s men’s soccer team remains true: scoring.
‘We believe in this team’
Coming off of Wednesday’s tough defeat, the Broncs were able to bounce back by ending in a 2-2 draw with Niagara on Saturday.
“We believe in this team. There is still a lot of soccer left,” said Inverso.
The Purple Eagles struck first in the contest, with Nuukele Gboe punching in a goal in the eighth minute of play, putting Niagara up 1-0.
Soon after that, junior forward Babacar Diene scored a goal in the 11th minute, putting the ball just inside of the right post.
The match remained scoreless throughout the rest of the first period, but in the 71st minute of the second half, Niagara took the lead on a header coming from Gabriel Mikina.
Once again, Rider matched the score as senior midfielder Matt Araujo found the equalizer from 10 yards out.
“The team’s energy after the second goal was much more positive,” noted Araujo.
Despite the Broncs not having their most prolific scoring season and being low in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) standings, they are still very much in it.
“We came back twice under crazy conditions,” said Inverso.
In past games, Rider struggled greatly with matching the play of the other team, but this wasn’t the case on Saturday.
“We are treating every game as if it is a final game in order to make the playoffs,” declared Araujo. “We also felt confident that we could beat the first place team in the standings.”
Rider now sits in eighth place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). The Broncs’ next game will be against Mount St. Mary’s on Oct. 19.