By Stephen Neukam
A late comeback bid was not enough to save the women’s soccer team’s season as Rider fell to Niagara 2-1 in the MAAC quarterfinals on Oct. 28.
The Broncs defense was blitzed in the first half, as Niagara scored twice in the opening period. Freshman midfielder Annie Ibey pierced Rider with two goals, scoring in the 10th and 29th minutes.
The game remained 2-0 into halftime.
The Broncs found hope late in the second half. Senior forward Kourtney Cunningham won the ball in the Niagara box and fired the ball into the net to cut the lead in half.
Rider had the opportunity to tie the game in the 80th minute, but senior defender Meghan McCabe’s shot was cleared off the line by a Purple Eagle defender.
The game finished 2-1 and Rider was sent home empty-handed from this year’s MAAC tournament.
The game marked the Broncs’ sixth consecutive appearance in the MAAC tournament.
“I’m very proud of the second-half performance as we really took the game to Niagara,” said Head Coach Drayson Hounsome. “However, I’m devastated for the team with the outcome of the game. Nobody wants the season to end in this manner.”
Rider was the fifth seed, while Niagara continued on in the tournament as the fourth seed.
While the postseason performance may have been disappointing, the regular season campaign could still be described as a success.
The Broncs finished the season with an overall record of 8-6-4, which easily topped their 2017 performance of 5-10-3. The team also finished with a 4-3-3 record in the conference.
Cunningham finished the season with a team-leading nine goals, which bested her previous career high of five goals in her junior year.
Junior midfielder Valeria Pascuet finished the season with six goals and seven assists.
Sophomore goalkeeper Carmen Carbonell posted two shutouts on the season while allowing a total of 19 goals.
Cunningham and Valeria were named to the All-MAAC First Team. McCabe and senior midfielder Sam Picinich were named to the All-MAAC Second Team. Freshman defender Niamh Cashin was named to the All-Rookie Team.
“Being named [to the First Team] is definitely very rewarding because I was recognized by other coaches from the MAAC,” said Cunningham. “This was my last season playing soccer and I believe that all my hard work has paid off.”
The MAAC tournament will continue on Nov. 1 with Niagara traveling to play Monmouth and Siena visiting Marist.