By Steve Sica
The women’s soccer team looks to redeem itself in the MAAC standings when it travels this weekend to St. Peter’s (1-10) and Manhattan (4-5).
Last weekend, Rider lost its first two conference games of the year to Fairfield (4-3-2) and Iona (3-6-1), both by a 1-0 score. Despite the back-to-back losses, Head Coach Drayson Hounsome is confident his team will rebound from these hard losses.
“We’ve got a senior class that has faced challenges before and has overcome them in the past;” Hounsome said. “When you face adversity, that’s when you really test yourself”.
Junior forward Bridgette Bartkowski felt the Broncs just didn’t have things go their way when they needed it to.
“These were two unlucky losses and we are going to do everything we can to get some wins,” Bartkowski said. “We made little mistakes and that cost us two games.”
Coach Hounsome has theories on what he thinks the team could do to improve its offensive output.
“We haven’t had the ball enough to give them the opportunities they need,” Hounsome said. “We want them to expend energy on the offensive side of the game, but instead they are expending more energy defensively.”
Preparing for games against St. Peter’s and Manhattan, the Broncs are looking to stay in contention in the MAAC. Coach Hounsome knows that these games are important and has plans to adjust how his team will compete this weekend.
“These are two different types of teams,” Hounsome said. “One plays on a slow grass field the other on a fast turf field, so we have to adjust to that. The main thing we have to do though is to keep possession of the ball better.”
Bartkowski and the rest of the Broncs are looking forward to this weekend’s MAAC matchups and she said that the practices have become much more intense this week.
“This week’s practices have been hard and competitive because we have a lot to work on and we need to prepare to avoid our mistakes,” Bartkowski said. “We started with two conference losses but hopefully now we will get as many wins as we can. I feel that we can definitely do that.”
Bartkowski isn’t the only one leading her team into MAAC play during the next four weeks. Senior goalie Jennifer Nichols has become a leader on the team.
“As a goalie, my communication is key on the field to helping everyone else on the field,” Nichols said. “My role has changed this year because I am getting more playing time and able to contribute to the team more.”
From a goaltender’s perspective, Nichols has seen both good signs and things that her team needs to work on. If the team wants to win, she feels that they need to finish plays offensively and support the midfielders.
“Our defense as a whole has been very solid and has not let up many goals,” Nichols said. “Our midfield has also done a good job of keeping possession in the middle. I think the biggest thing that we need to improve on is attacking as a team and finishing.”