By Jacob Tiger and Carolo Pascale
Rider women’s soccer rounded out its non-conference schedule going 1-1 with a win against NJIT on Sept. 8 and a loss against Bucknell University on Sept. 12.
On Sept. 8, the Rider women’s soccer team finally conquered a familiar and troublesome foe: the NJIT Highlanders, who had beaten the Broncs in five consecutive matchups since 2016. With a final score of 2-1, the Broncs were able to vanqish the Highlanders in a hard fought victory.
“I don’t know the last time we beat NJIT. It’s been awhile. They’ve had the better of us for quite a few years,” said Head Coach Drayson Hounsome.
The win is even more impressive considering that Rider was without its top scoring option, junior forward Makenzie Rodrigues, who was sidelined with an injury. However, the Broncs remained determined and were confident they would come out on top.
“Mentally, I knew that it was going to be tough,” sophomore goalkeeper Ellie Scaincalepore said. “I think NJIT put up a great fight, but I had confidence in the girls in front of me and that’s all that you can do. Instill confidence in the rest of the team and move forward that way.”
The Broncs seemed to lack a sense of connectivity in the first half and struggled to get anything going offensively. NJIT was aggressive, routinely making deep trips into Rider territory and earning multiple shots on goal.
Despite the persistence of NJIT, Sciancalepore and the Rider defense held its own, preventing the Highlanders from scoring in the half.
With a scoreless game at halftime, it was clear that Rider needed to find some sort of groove if they wanted to come out on top.
Fortunately, Rider’s offensive woes would not follow them into the second half.
NJIT struck first in the 58th minute, taking a 1-0 lead, but Rider did not hesitate to return the favor with interest.
In the 63rd minute, Broncs sophmore midfielder Hannah Freeman notched her first goal of the season, making the score 1-1. 15 minutes later, junior forward Chloe Fisher gave Rider the lead thanks to a quick steal and pass by Lindsey Maslow.
Now possessing the lead, Rider simply needed to continue their stellar defensive performance, and that’s exactly what they did.
Although the Highlanders gave it their best effort, Sciancalepore was able to shut down both attempts, sealing a much-needed win for the Broncs.
Sciancalepore’s performance was invaluable, making five crucial saves, along with a multitude of other fantastic defensive plays.
“Ellie had a great game. We’ve been talking about [how] big saves change a whole game, and today she won us the game,” Fisher said of Sciancalepore’s performance.
Rider’s game against Bucknell on Sept. 12 was its last non-conference game of the 2021 season and it didn’t go well for the Broncs, who dropped the game 3-1..
In just the 16th minute, Bucknell took a 1-0 lead when Bucknell’s Paige Temple took a shot from 30 yards out that Sciancalepore just missed as it hit the back of the net.
“Several individual things broke down that we will work on in practice,” said Hounsome.
Bucknell held onto that 1-0 lead into halftime. During halftime, Hounsome changed the formation that Rider was using to try and combat the Bison’s midfield.
“We were struggling to adapt to Bucknell’s diamond midfield so we changed formations at half time to mirror their set up,” Hounsome said.
Rider started better in the second half and the Broncs got lucky when Bucknell scored a rare own goal in the 55th minute, tying the game at 1-1.
“It came within the period of us aggressively attacking and getting dangerous balls into the 6-yard box, and from that, we were able to put them under pressure and cause them to make a mistake. The ball was on the left wing and with now a forward two, me and Makenzie switched with her overlapping me, getting the ball on the left side of the 18-yard box and crossing a ball into me, which resulted in the defender scoring an own goal,” said Fisher.
After the own goal, Bucknell took back over scoring two goals in just over five minutes, one in the 78th minute and the other in the 83rd minute, making the score 3-1.
Despite some late pushes from the Broncs, Bucknell would hold strong and keep the score at 3-1, which would be the final.
In goal, Sciancalpore faced 22 shots, making seven saves, and allowing all three goals.
“Defensively we are all disappointed for giving up three goals,” said Hounsome.
The Broncs finish their non-conference games with a record of 2-3-1 as they look towards the start of league play next week when they take on the defending Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) champion Siena Saints on Sept. 18.
“The plan stays the same with our mindset, goals and morale. We are all ready to compete with the teams in the MAAC, especially me as it will be my first time playing against these teams. We have goals which we are going to give our all to achieve this season and hopefully create something special which can set something for Rider women’s soccer program. It is a very exciting time ahead for us and we can’t wait to play our first conference game this upcoming weekend, we have a lot more to prove which makes it so more exciting,” said Fisher.