By Logan VanDine
Coming off of a disappointing 2021 season, the Rider women’s soccer team wanted to start off their season strong, and they did. The Broncs won three out of their first five matches, including back to back shutout victories.
A trio of shutouts
The Broncs made a statement victory for their first game of the season, as they won a nail biter 3-2 against Wagner in Staten Island on Aug. 18.
The scoring began just four minutes into the match when senior midfielder Camryn Dees scored her second career goal to instantly give the Broncs a 1-0 lead.
The Seahawks made it close in the second, cutting the Broncs lead to 3-2, but could not tie it from there and the Broncs were able to hang on.
“The season opener is always a challenge with the limited preparation time in preseason, so any positive result is a plus. We actually played pretty good also, and looked dangerous in the attack,” said Head Coach Drayson Hounsome.
In their second straight road game on Aug. 25, it was another close, contested match as one goal was all the Broncs needed to secure a 1-0 win and the team’s first ever victory over Villanova.
After a scoreless first half, the Broncs were finally able to break the ice when senior forward Makenzie Rodrigues scored the game-winning goal.
“Conditions were very tough today with the excessive heat,” said Hounsome. “We had a game plan that went nowhere in the first half, and to be fair, Villanova had the better of the game by a mile. That being said, we defended with discipline and Ellie [Sciancalepore] was strong in goal, giving us a chance to change tactics at halftime.”
Three straight road games proved not to be a problem for the Broncs. They completed their second straight shutout, this time over Delaware State by a score of 6-0 on Aug. 25.
The Broncs dominated the entire game, and one player who really stepped up was Rodrigues once again.
Rodrigues recorded her first career hat trick in the victory, as she scored goals in the 19th, 22nd and 61st minutes.
“It was so exciting to get my first career hat trick and join a group of other players to do the same,” said Rodrigues.
‘All we can do is compete’
The Broncs were looking to make it four straight road wins to begin the season, but ultimately that goal fell short as they dropped their first game of the season to Albany 3-1 on Aug. 31.
The Broncs started out strong with senior midfielder Lindsey Maslow scoring the first goal of the game, but that was all the Broncs were able to do in the highly contested matchup.
Albany then went on to score two straight goals to close the first half and one more in the second half to put the icing on the cake for the Broncs first loss of the season.
“Disappointing outcome tonight, but to be fair, we were the second-best team on the field for large periods. Up 1-0, we gifted them a couple of goals with basic errors. We will learn from these and look to bounce back on Saturday,” said Hounsome.
If you like defense, then the game on Sept. 3 was the game for you to watch. Both Rider and Temple’s defenses were phenomenal as both teams could not break the ice as they fell to a tie at zero.
The biggest reason why this game remained tied all throughout the match was thanks to junior goalkeeper Ellie Sciancalepore with her six saves that prevented the Owls from scoring.
“We looked forward to our game against them after a very competitive tie last year. Although we would have loved to come away with the win, defensively, we were happy to come away with a shutout against a solid Temple team. Looking to have shutouts is important for us as a team and is just one of the ways that we can achieve our goals within the MAAC this year,” said Sciancalepore.
Hounsome also gave an overall assessment of his team’s scoreless tie.
“I think we played well. We responded against a tough team. We tied them last year, but I think they got the better of us a few years before then. We kept a shutout, our third shutout in five games. All we can do is compete, work hard and play well, and if their keeper happens to have a really good day, that’s just the way it is. I’m not disappointed with a nil-nil draw,” Hounsome said.
The Broncs next test will be against Fairleigh Dickinson as they head to Teanack for a hopeful victory on Sept. 7.