By Brandon Scalea
On Sept. 21, the Rider men’s soccer team (3-1-1) took on St. Bonaventure (0-3) at Ben Cohen Field. The Bonnies of the Atlantic 10 Conference came to Lawrenceville determined to pick up their first win.
The Broncs would not let this happen on their home turf. Rider dominated the match from start to finish, winning 5-0 and recording their third straight win since starting the season 0-1-1. The goalkeepers, junior Ryan Baird and sophomore David Pastuna, were solid in the net, while sophomore midfielder Christian Flath and junior midfielder Florian Valot notched two goals apiece.
In the opening moments, Valot netted a goal past Bonnies’ goalkeeper, senior Jeremy Figler, in the eighth minute. The lone assist was from senior forward Ryan Walsh.
The goal marked the fourth straight game the Broncs were able to score. Head Coach Charlie Inverso is excited that his players have been able to find the back of the net consistently.
“It is nice that we have been able to score in the past three games,” Inverso said. “We have been working a lot on not just finishing our chances, but on creating them by trying to break the other team down.”
The Broncs never looked back. They controlled possession for what felt like the entire first half and walked off the field at halftime with a commanding 3-0 lead. Goal number two came at the 26th minute when Flath, freshman forward Jose Aguinaga and sophomore forward Zach Bond broke through with only the St. Bonaventure goalkeeper to beat. The trio each had a shot at it, but it was Bond who finally put the ball past Figler for the two-goal lead.
Approximately seven minutes later, Flath, who was named MAAC Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 15, extended the lead on a corner kick. With a goal and an assist already under his belt, Flath led his team off the field at halftime to an ovation from the Rider fan base.
At the half, the Broncs tried to stay focused and not let the substantial lead slip away. When the second half began, they did not miss a beat. Like the first 45 minutes, Rider dominated possession and continued to pressure the St. Bonaventure defense.
Early in the half, Pastuna leaped for the ball and collided heads with SBU freshman defender Jaskamal Singh. He was able to stand up under his own power, but he left the game and was replaced by Baird. The junior transfer from Rutgers preserved the shutout for the Broncs.
In the 53rd minute, Flath netted another goal, his second of the game. The assist was from Aguinaga, who left the game with two assists and was effective in keeping the ball away from St. Bonaventure.
“We felt very comfortable today with the ball, and even better once we started scoring goals,” said Aguinaga. “It’s great that we have 13 goals in the last three games. We will be a solid team by the time conference play starts.”
With 21 minutes remaining in the match, Valot scored his second goal, extending the lead to 5-0. The Bonnies were finally able to pressure the Broncs with four shots in the last 12 minutes, but were unable to find the back of the net on any of them.
This week, the Broncs will travel to the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark on Sept. 24 and St. Francis in Brooklyn, N.Y. on Sept. 27 before starting conference play on Oct. 1 against Fairfield at home.
Inverso believes that his team must continue to play well going into the conference face-off against Fairfield.
“Momentum going into conference games is important,” Inverso said. “But the most important aspect we have to concentrate on is the ability to be ready to play in every game, particularly on the road.”