By Rob Rose and Ryan Connelly
The men’s soccer team lost its first MAAC game of the season, 2-1, at Siena on Oct. 18. The Broncs’ seven-game winning streak came to an end with their first defeat since a 2-0 loss against Villanova on Sept. 13.
Rider struggled to create scoring opportunities with only two shots on goal against a Saints team that was winless in MAAC play prior to the game.
Siena opened the scoring with a goal in the 33rd minute and added another in the 75th minute.
Rider got on the board late in the game when freshman midfielder Aaron Gabriel finished a cross from senior forward Jose Aguinaga. The goal was Gabriel’s second of the year.
Aguinaga is ranked fifth in the nation and first in the MAAC with nine assists this season.
The late rally by the Broncs was not enough as they dropped their first conference game of the season.
The Broncs’ lack of offense was a result of the consecutive overtime games they played in the previous week, according to Head Coach Charlie Inverso.
“Two long trips, and consecutive overtime wins and emotional wins definitely took its toll on us for sure,” said Inverso.
A crop of new players unaccustomed to the rigors of a full NCAA season is a challenge for Inverso.
Senior forward Elliott Otmani and senior goalkeeper David Pastuna are the leaders of a young Rider team that includes 10 freshmen and two redshirt freshmen.
“We don’t use that as an excuse, but we lost 14 guys from last year, 14 guys that brought a ton of experience and a ton of minutes,” said Inverso.
Following the loss to Siena, the Broncs played Canisius and were only able to come up with a tie. It took a while before the action started; at 33:57 Hunter Walsh scored the first goal of the game for the Golden Griffins.
At 57:13, Otmani scored the equalizer off an assist from Gabriel.
For Otmani, it was his team-leading eighth goal of the season, tying the career-high for goals he set during his freshman season. Otmani is tied for second in goals scored this season in the MAAC.
From there the game went into double-overtime and came to an end. The final score was 1-1.
Rider had the advantage on offense having shot 22 times and 10 were on goal while Canisius shot 16 times and only seven were on goal.
The Broncs had risen to No. 22 in the United Soccer Coaches National Poll and No. 24 in the College Soccer News National Poll last week.
Following the 0-1-1 week, the Broncs saw their national rankings decline, dropping out of the top 25 in the United Soccer Coaches National Poll and dropping to No. 26 in the College Soccer News National Poll.
Rider is ranked first in the conference with 10-3-1 overall and 5-1-1 MAAC record as it prepares for the MAAC Tournament beginning on Nov. 5. If the Broncs can clinch the No. 1 seed, they will host this year’s tournament.
“We want to host the tournament and finish first and win the regular season, which is the main objective right now,” said Otmani.
The Broncs head back on the road to take on Iona Oct. 25 before returning for their final home regular season game Oct. 28 against Marist at 7 p.m.