By Brandon Ferris
fter being picked to finish third in the MAAC this season, the men’s soccer team began its 2015 campaign by recording a resounding 4-0 win against St. Joseph’s (0-2) at Ben Cohen Field, picking up where they left off after last year’s national finish of ninth in goals scored.
Senior forward Justin Veltri scored a goal just seven minutes into the game after a pass by sophomore forward Jose Aguinaga. This goal was the first of the season for Veltri and his seventh career goal, while Aguinaga got his first assist of the season with two shots on goal as well.
Sophomore Elliott Otmani also recorded an assist on Veltri’s first goal. Veltri felt his goal was a good kick-start for his team.
“It felt good scoring the first goal of the year, especially with our team,” he said. “As soon as we get one early, we tend to keep them coming.”
The goal was followed by senior Florian Valot, first goal of the season after a pass in the box by junior forward Christian Flath.
Just four minutes after his assist, Flath scored his own goal. After a foul by St. Joe’s, Flath was able to score a direct kick from 25 yards out. Flath strategically placed the ball around the defending wall and past the goalkeeper for the third goal of the game. With 14 minutes left to play, Zach Bond received a pass from Flath and shot the ball. St Joe’s goalkeeper, Jay Higbee, blocked the shot, but Bond scored off the rebound.
Junior goalkeeper David Pastuna played 75 minutes of the game and recorded four saves for Rider. Pastuna credited his team in front of him for a convincing win on opening day.
“It was a good feeling, especially since we have a lot to live up to,” he said. “We still have respect to earn from some of these bigger programs, so getting a win like this against a non-conference team was excellent. For me, getting the shutout was just the icing on the cake.”
Although the offensive momentum did not exactly transfer to the game against Seton Hall (0-2-1) on Sept. 4, the Broncs were able to record a thrilling come-from-behind win over the Pirates, 2-1.
Rider (2-1) scored two goals in the final five minutes to pull off the win, including the game-winner with ten seconds left off a corner kick from Flath that was redirected into the net by Aguinaga.
The Pirates struck early, taking a 1-0 lead in the 25th minute of the first half. Although the Broncs outshot Seton Hall the entire contest, they couldn’t get one past the Pirate goalkeeper until Valot lobbed one into the net with 3:09 remaining, tying the game 1-1.
Pastuna made three saves in the game, including two big stops in the second half with Rider trailing. It was the first time in 4 years that Rider was able to top Seton Hall.
In a battle of unbeatens, the Broncs fell short to Temple (3-0-1) on Sept. 8, 3-1.
Senior forward Sonimi Halliday opened the scoring for the Broncs off a corner kick from Flath in just the twelfth minute of play. That score would last for the rest of the first half, despite Rider leading in shots 5-3.
With 32 minutes left in the game, the Owls were able to sneak one by Pastuna to tie the game. Temple would get the go-ahead goal in the 74th minute, and would score on a penalty kick just moments later.
The Broncs are back in action at Ben Cohen Field when they host LIU Brooklyn on Sept. 10.