By Carolo Pascale
In its first conference game of the year, Rider women’s soccer looked to get some retribution, as it played the defending Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Champion Siena Saints. But with an identical score to the last time the two teams faced off, the Broncs dropped their conference opener on Sept. 18 with a final of 2-1 in overtime.
Last season, Rider faced Siena in the MAAC tournament semifinals, but the Saints ended up on top, winning that game, and ultimately winning the championship. Going back to 2011, games between the Broncs and the Saints have been extremely close with no games being decided by more than one goal, including three ties. This game was no different.
“We were obviously really pumped to play Siena again after they ended our season last year. We really wanted to go out there and get the win, and I think we played and competed really hard but just didn’t get the result we wanted,” said Broncs junior forward Makenzie Rodrigues.
The start of the action came in the 15th minute when Broncs graduate student midfielder Cameron Santers registered the game’s first shot.
It was a goalkeeper battle up until the 40th minute, with Rider’s sophomore goalkeeper Ellie Sciancalepore making four saves and Siena’s senior goalkeeper Leslie Adams making two stops of her own.
But in that 40th minute, Broncs junior forward Chloe Fisher scored a tremendous goal off a volley to give Rider the 1-0 lead. The goal, assisted by Rodrigues, was Fisher’s fourth of the year, which ties Rodrigues for the team lead.
“It was a loose bouncing ball on my side of the field, and I stepped onto it and played a lofted through-ball for Chloe, who had a sweet strike with her left foot and volleyed it in. We had some attacking opportunities throughout the half, so it was a really great goal,” said Rodrigues.
The lead would be short-lived however, with the Saints scoring just two minutes later in the 42nd minute of the match.
At the end of the first half, the game was locked at 1-1, and each team had seven shots, showing just how even these teams are.
The second half started similarly to the first with lots of saves coming from both goalkeepers, but Fisher had the chance to put the Broncs up 2-1 on a penalty kick in the 85th minute. Fisher slipped on the kick and couldn’t capitalize as the score stayed tied at 1-1.
“The atmosphere was very tense, but I was confident I would give it my best shot for the team. I put the ball down, lined myself up and hit the ball aiming for bottom left, but as I swung my leg and kicked through I lost balance and slipped, punching the ball straight at the keeper and it rebounding straight back at me, I jumped back up and tried a second shot but hitting the keeper again. I was devastated. But it happened and the game played on, I kept fighting for the ball, taking opportunities but it wasn’t our day and we didn’t manage to score again,” Fisher said of the failed opportunity.
The second half ended the same as the first, with the game locked at 1-1. This meant overtime was needed to decide a winner. But that golden goal could not have come in any weirder fashion.
Saints junior defender Danielle Borrino took a shot from 40 yards out that Sciancalepore let come down, taking an awkward bounce over her head, and into the back of the net giving the Saints a 2-1 win.
“It was definitely a tough bounce and it caught me off guard. It was unfortunate that it cost us the game and it was gutting, to say the least, but we learn and look forward,” said Sciancalepore.
Despite the bad bounce, Sciancalepore still made seven saves on 16 shots in the match.
“She played well but was very unfortunate with a bad bounce on the artificial turf,” Head Coach Drayson Hounsome said of Sciancalepore’s performance.
Rider now moves to 2-4-1 on the year, and 0-1 in conference play. Looking to their next game, the Broncs will take on the Fairfield Stags on Sept. 25 at Fairfield.
“Our focus moves onto Fairfield this Saturday, once again another away game, and to bounce back to winning ways. We have scored in every game so far and so all we need to do is continue with what we are doing and figure out as a team how we are going to come out of these tight games with the win and not be cut short,” said Fisher.