By Shaun Chornobroff
Rider remained undefeated in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) play with a 5-0 win over Niagara on Oct. 2 and a 1-0 victory over Marist on Oct. 5.
The weather for the Broncs’ matchup with Niagara was uncharacteristically hot, as it was over 90 degrees when the game got underway.
“It was really, really tough,” senior midfielder Valeria Pascuet said in regards to the heat. “But you just have to keep going and just try your best even if you’re dying and just keep playing for your teammates.”
Most of the first half was back and forth with one team waiting for a chance to break out. In the 35th minute, graduate student forward Emily Curteis received the ball around midfield before navigating her way through the Niagara defense and slipped it into the back of the net.
Head Coach Drayson Hounsome spoke about Curteis’ goal.
“It was a huge relief,” Hounsome said. “It’s like now we got our noses in front and on a day when it’s this hot it’s really hard to come from behind and score.”
Niagara made a push for a score within five minutes of Curteis’s goal but junior goalkeeper Carmen Carbonell made a difficult save and preserved the lead.
Pascuet, who also had an assist in the game, extended Rider’s lead in the 41st minute when her one-time shot deflected off a Niagara defender and past the goalkeeper.
The Broncs continued their momentum into the second half, scoring two goals in the first ten minutes.
In the 51st minute, junior midfielder Madeleine Tarin ran to the back post and, in a sea of players, headed a corner kick from Pascuet into the net.
Less than two minutes later, freshman forward Mackenzie Rodrigues continued an impressive start to her college career by scoring her fourth goal of the season on an assist by senior midfielder Sofia Soares, her second of the game.
Rider finished off its scoring in the 87th minute when senior midfielder Erica Ludiwowski rose above the Niagara defense and headed home a free kick from freshman midfielder Karagh Tait.
Rider’s depth stood out as substitutes scored two goals and had three assists. Hounsome spoke highly of his substitutes’ performances.
“On a day like today where it was pretty warm, after the first two conference games, we’ve had a week of rest and recovery in preparation,” Hounsome said. “This is our first game we haven’t had that and we knew it was going to be tough. We knew we would need quality performances from those players coming off the bench. I thought they did that and I thought they did that excellently, in fact.”
The game meant a lot to Rider as it looked to avenge last year’s loss to Niagara in the MAAC tournament. Pascuet saw that importance, and said the win “was real big because last year they beat us, they kicked us out of the season and it was just really special to score one of five goals that we scored today and I was just really proud of everyone today. It was a really good performance.”
Hounsome echoed Pascuet’s sentiments.
“To beat them in the manner that we beat them is probably what’s most pleasing. We scored five goals, we dominated good spells of the game, and we kept them off the scoreboard. So, the nature of the win was a real confidence booster for all those players that were here last year, because they have the same team, the same forwards that caused us a lot of problems last year and scored goals on us,” said Hounsome.
The win was Rider’s first over Niagara since 2016.
The Broncs traveled to take on Marist on Oct. 5 in their fourth conference matchup of the season. Rider lost its last five matchups to Marist going into the Oct. 5 matchup.
The first half was a quiet one, with the Broncs almost cashing in on a shot from graduate student back Daiana Frizon David in the 42nd minute.
The second half remained scoreless going into the 84th minute of the match. Sophomore forward Nikki Arrington started a break for the Broncs that ended with a header from freshman forward Hailey Russell to put Rider ahead 1-0.
The Broncs kept that lead to notch their first win over Marist since 2013 and improved their conference record to 3-0-1.
On Oct. 7, Carbonell was named MAAC Defensive Player of the Week.
Rider will host Saint Peter’s on Oct. 9 at 7 p.m at Ben Cohen Field.