Rider wins first MAAC contest following tough loss

Sophomore Ryan Fitzgerald leaps in the air to attempt a header during Rider’s 2-0 victory over Manhattan on Sunday. The Broncs picked up their first win in the conference and their second overall on the season after falling to Saint Peter’s on Friday, 5-1.

By Kim Leder

The men’s soccer team played in what seemed to be two different worlds this past weekend. Rider’s 5-1 loss to Saint Peter’s on Friday seemed to give the team the drive it needed to defeat Manhattan on Sunday, 2-0.
“On Friday, things weren’t going our way,” sophomore Chris Kozak said. “We had multiple chances, as did they, but they were able to put their shots away. We played well but the score definitely didn’t justify how the game went. It was just one of those games we would love to have back.”
Junior Harry Newman of Saint Peter’s (5-4-1 overall, 1-0-1 MAAC) gave the Peacocks the early lead in the middle of the first half. He would later connect on two more goals, giving him a hat trick and giving his team a commanding lead over Rider (2-9 overall, 1-1 MAAC).
“We came out with a great attitude, but things just didn’t work out for us,” said sophomore goalkeeper Matthew Perrella. “To be honest, my game was a bit off and my guys rely on me to have a great game. I just didn’t get the job done.”
Head coach Russell Fager did his best on the sideline to pump up his team and keep the players’ heads in the game.
“The team came out with a lot of hustle and determination,” Fager said. “The guys really played hard the first half and did everything they could to disrupt the Saint Peter’s attack and get a goal of our own.”
The Broncs proved they don’t give up easily. Sophomore Sam Kotowski controlled a rebound which put his team on the scoreboard at 4-1.
“In the second half, we put more emphasis on getting forward to win the game,” Kotowski said. “We lost because we gave up some goals we shouldn’t have. As a team, I think we got a bit unlucky with getting countered upon, but we need to learn how to get better at that.”
Rider was outshot by Saint Peter’s 17-15, including 9-6 in shots on goal. The game also featured 32 fouls and 10 yellow cards.
The Broncs beat Saint Peter’s 1-0 last year and have had a lot of success since the series began in 1960, going 20-10 against the Peacocks.
“We began the second half with the same intensity, but when Saint Peter’s got their second goal, we had to make some changes to chase the game,” Fager said. “When we did that we left ourselves vulnerable at the back and we got countered a couple of times, which put the game out of reach.”
Sunday afternoon was a different story against Manhattan (0-8 overall, 0-2 MAAC) though, starting with the first goal by Rider midway through the first half by Kozak. It was his first collegiate goal, junior Jonathon Burd also connected
his first goal at Rider to make it 2-0 in favor of the Broncs, with 30 minutes left in the game.
In addition, Sunday’s game became sophomore goalkeeper Jason Giordano’s first-ever shutout and collegiate victory with five saves that night.
“Sunday’s game went really well,” Kozak said. “We played with a lot of heart and that’s what we needed. We got on the score sheet first and it gave us momentum which led to another goal and ultimately a victory.”
Both teams had 17 shots while Rider managed to put six of them on goal.
“We were able to make the stops throughout the whole 90 minutes,” Perrella said. “Giordano, who started in goal on Sunday, did a great job for the guys. He’s been patient and took advantage of the start in goal.”
Last year Rider defeated Manhattan 3-1 in New York and own a 8-3-4 advantage in the series that began back in 1997. The Jaspers are the only team in the MAAC without a win and are joined by Marist as the teams without a conference victory.
“The guys played a very smart game and didn’t let Manhattan get behind our defense,” Fager said. “We got two very nice goals.”
The Broncs’ next game is Saturday night, when they will host Loyola (MD) (5-3-2 overall, 1-0-1 MAAC) at 7 p.m.
Rider has seven contests left on its schedule, all of them are against MAAC opponents and four of them are away.

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