Broncs crushed by Siena in MAAC opener

By Rich Saile

After concluding its non-conference schedule, Rider traveled to Loudonville, New York, to take on Siena in the team’s first-ever game of Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play. 

Looking to make a statement in their first conference game ever, the Broncs played their MAAC opener on March 23. 

In wet and rainy conditions, Rider was walloped at the hands of the Saints, falling 22-4 to start MAAC play with a loss.

“Overall, we didn’t play our game and they capitalized on the things we made mistakes with,” said Head Coach Evan Mager. “We have to be able to control what we can control and we have to be able to play through all different conditions.”

From the beginning, Siena controlled the game on offense and scored the first goal 55 seconds into the matchup. The Saints scored two more goals in a two-minute span to put them up 3-0 early.

The Broncs scored their first goal with 9:45 left in the first quarter off an extra-player opportunity due to an illegal equipment penalty on Siena. The first goal was scored by junior attacker Toni Gismondi, her 10th goal of the season, that was assisted by freshman midfielder Elena Bontatibus.

Gismondi talked about what has worked for her so well on offense so far this season.

 “It sounds cliche, but my teammates are definitely the reason I am so successful,” Gismondi  said about her strong offensive season. “Most of my goals this season, including my one from the Siena game, were assisted. The credit goes to our offense being selfless and wanting everyone to succeed.”

The Saints quickly won the draw control and scored another goal in the next 48 seconds. They managed to go up 7-1 after just one quarter of play.

The Broncs started off the second quarter with a goal from Bontatibus, her 10th goal of the season off a free-position shot. But the Saints were able to score the last five goals of the quarter to go into the locker room up 13-3 at the half. 

Coming out of the locker room, the Saints got a quick goal 38 seconds out of the half. Rider was able to get its fourth goal of the game off a turnover that led to a ground-ball pickup from junior defender Cali Schwerdtfeger, which set the Broncs offense up for a goal by sophomore midfielder Katie Walsh on an assist by graduate student attacker Emily Wesoky.

For the rest of the game, the Saints scored the last seven goals as the Broncs lost 22-4 in their first-ever MAAC outing. 

Mager said, “We have to focus on winning the draw and we have to focus on stopping the ball. For the most part we’ve been if not 50/50 but even a little bit stronger than most teams.” 

Siena finished with more shots than Rider, including 25-6 in shots on goal. The Saints also won the ground balls 18-12.

Gismondi was asked about what she thought went most wrong in particular in Rider’s first conference game.

“We let the uncontrollables get to us, the weather and the drive was not ideal, but going forward we definitely learned our lesson. This was the first big loss we have faced, so we will be using it as a learning experience,” Gismondi said on her team’s lackluster effort against the Saints. “Going forward into our next game and those to come, our mindset is what will determine the outcome in a game, the things we can control.”

The Broncs return home to Ben Cohen Field, where they will hope for better outcome against fellow MAAC opponent as they will take on the Manhattan Jaspers on March 27 at 4 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.

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