The men’s soccer team took a hit in the MAAC standings last weekend as they fell in two contests. The defeats were the Broncs’ third and fourth straight, dropping the team to 2-14-2 overall with a 1-7 mark in the conference, partially attributed to multiple injuries.
Manhattan came into Lawrenceville on Friday with a season similar to Rider’s, sporting a 2-12-1 record and a winless conference record.
The Broncs fell behind twice in the game, but fought back both times to knot things up thanks to a tremendous play from junior Nico Tramontana. The team’s leading scorer assisted freshman Sal Lubrano’s first collegiate goal off a long pass with nine minutes remaining in the first half. Tramontana also scored early in the second frame off an assist from sophomore Andrew Cotes, but the Jaspers pulled off their first MAAC win in the 74th minute.
Manhattan cashed in the game-winner off a header, as Rider lost another heartbreaker 3-2.
Head Coach Russ Fager knew his team came up short in a great opportunity to snag a victory.
“We played well enough to be able to beat them, but on the third goal we just got caught up with one of their players playing a great ball across the box and one of their players being at the right place at the right time,” Fager said.
Freshman goalkeeper Chris Pimentel made three saves in his fifth start of the season, while the tandem of Tramontana and Cotes continued to impress despite the outcome. The duo now leads the Broncs in goals and points with four and nine each in both categories.
“Nico and Andrew have been solid performers all season,” Fager said. “Nico has missed several games due to injury but each time has come back and played his best. Andrew has been the only player to play in every game this season. His speed and effort have been tremendous in every game.”
Rider didn’t fare much better on Sunday as it ran into Saint Peter’s, an aggressive offensive squad that entered the matchup second in the conference in shots and battling for a playoff spot in the MAAC championship tournament.
The Broncs made two early mistakes and the Peacocks took full advantage, scoring two goals in the 25th and 36th minutes. That was all Saint Peter’s needed for the win, but they added insurance in the second half, finishing off Rider by a score of 3-0.
“Saint Peter’s was a very talented team,” Fager said. “We gave them two of their three goals on bad decisions, but we also had our chances in both halves to score some goals.”
The Peacocks lived up to their reputation, outshooting the Broncs 26-10, while Pimentel made a career high 10 saves in net.
Rider’s record has been misleading in the sense that the heart and desire of the team has shown through the whole season.
The Broncs have been plagued with injuries through the majority of the conference schedule, missing key components for success.
“Most of the players we have out are upperclassmen who would provide experience and stability for the team, not to mention the leadership and poise necessary to get through tough times,” said Fager. “The psychological part is extremely difficult to deal with since we have expectations coming into the year and then they’re washed away by accidents and bad luck.”
The Broncs will attempt to put a positive ending to the season against their toughest opponent all year: Loyola.
The Greyhounds (16-0-1, 8-0) are the sixth-ranked team in the nation and lead the MAAC in points, assists and shutouts, boasting an intelligent and fundamentally sound team.
Rider takes on the challenge on Senior Day this Saturday at 2 p.m.