In their first game in more than two weeks, the Rider men’s soccer team continued its strong defensive play, shutting out the Fairfield Stags in a game that ended in a 0-0 tie after two overtimes on April 3.
The draw, which came in frigid conditions, was the first match the Broncs had played since March 18.
“I thought we were pretty sluggish in the first half and I thought the second half we woke up,” Head Coach Charlie Inverso explained. “You can probably say that many times away from COVID… It definitely hurt us, it definitely hurt us, we weren’t quite as sharp.”
Fairfield routinely allowed Rider to possess the ball, waiting for the Broncs to make a mistake before attempting to start a quick attack at the Broncs defense, but the center-back duo of freshman Guillarme Vacter and junior Regis Dulck stopped almost any chance the Stags had of getting on the board.
Junior goalkeeper Pablo Gatinois was only tasked to make two saves in the game, both of which he made comfortably, earning his 15th collegiate shutout.
Through three games, the Rider backline has been the key to the team’s success, not allowing a single goal and leading the team to a 2-0-1 record.
“I would say that it is a collective work above all, the team defends together and we as defenders try to do our job as well as possible,” Dulck explained. “I would say that we have good communication [not only] with our goalkeeper, but also in our defensive line, which allows us to always remain vigilant.”
Rider outshot the Stags 10-4 and had opportunities to put themselves ahead, but failed to get the ball past Fairfield’‘s all-conference netminder, Gordon Botterill.
Senior Pablo De Castro may have had the most glaring opportunity of the game. De Castro found himself with an opportunity to put Rider ahead, with 28 minutes left, when a free-kick crossed into the box found his head, but the veteran goal scorer failed to redirect the ball into the goal.
Junior midfielder Guillermo Pavia Vidal almost found his way onto the scoresheet when he ripped a shot off of a corner kick, but the 6-foot-5 Botterill made a diving stop to his near post to keep the game scoreless.
“You know, a lot of times you leave a game and say, ‘ah boy, we didn’t put away our chances,’” Inverso said. “To be honest, we didn’t create a ton of them… I mean, there were a couple chances we could have put away, but you could probably say that after most soccer games played.”
After a mere three games, Rider’s abbreviated and unusual spring regular season has already concluded. The Broncs will next take the pitch on April 11 in the quarterfinals of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Tournament.