By Logan VanDine
In their first two home games of the season, Rider men’s soccer was able to deliver for its fans winning both of its home games with a win against Siena, 1-0 on Sept. 16 followed by another impressive victory on Sept. 19, 3-1.
‘This win is like a fresh start’
After back-to-back ties, the Broncs got a much-needed 1-0 win over Siena on Sept. 16 in the team’s first conference match under new Head Coach Chad Duernberger.
From the start, the game was a defensive battle at Ben Cohen Field as no one was able to score in the first half, the third consecutive game this happened for the Broncs.
In the second half, the game remained scoreless for much of the way, until the 58th minute as the Broncs drew first blood thanks to sophomore midfielder Luke Kirilenko’s first goal of the season, which earned the Broncs a 1-0 win to move to 3-1-2 on the young season.
“You train hard every single day and every single day when you get on this pitch, it’s a blessing,” said Kirilenko. “I came on and I was fortunate enough to be at the right place at the right time and used a great technique and it was amazing. It’s great to score for the team.”
Duernberger was asked if he had any nerves about coaching against his first MAAC opponent since he was not familiar with a team like Siena.
“[Siena’s] record isn’t truly what they are but I feel that a win like this is a fresh start in MAAC play for us,” said Duernberger. “We wanted to get on the score sheet a little early but we got what we needed and the defenders did what they were able to do and as a whole group we were able to pitch a shutout.”
‘I was really pleased’
In just his second home game coaching for Rider, Duernberger and his squad picked up another huge victory over La Salle on Sept. 19, 3-1.
The Broncs fell behind early in the first half as La Salle scored first in the 33rd minute to give them a quick 1-0 lead.
With two minutes left in the first half, the Broncs took some momentum into halftime as junior back Martin Chladek got the score even at one with both teams heading into the locker room.
The Broncs offense came alive in the second half as they broke the 1-1 tie with senior forward Babacar Diene scoring in the 61st mintue making the game now 2-1.
The goal was followed by some much-needed insurance in the 84th minute as senior forward Justin Ruffino made a clutch shot to give Rider some breathing room making game now 3-1.
“It took us a little bit to get going tonight with the first half being a little sluggish but I think they responded well,” Duernberger said. “We didn’t talk much about tactics at halftime, it was more about showing more grit so I liked our energy in the second half and I was really pleased.”
Ruffino also talked about his second half goal that helped the Broncs win their fourth game.
“It felt amazing, coach [Duernberger] gave me an opportunity and I took it and we gotta keep rolling for Saturday our second conference game so we gotta keep going,” Ruffino said.
Rider moves to 4-1-2 on the season and will stay home when they host Fairfield on Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. for Alumni Day.