Early goal pushes Rider to win in opener

By Logan VanDine

Three days after some of the men’s soccer team’s key players returned from quarantine, the men’s soccer team won a very competitive season opener against the Siena Saints, 1-0, at Ben Cohen Field on March 11.

The Broncs first and only goal came just minutes in when sophomore midfielder and forward Matt Araujo, who was named Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week on March 16, scored off an assist from senior midfielder Francsico Olano as the Broncs held on from there, winning 1-0 on their home turf.

According to Head Coach Charlie Inverso, two key players returned from a 10-day quarantine on Monday, March 8.

Inverso was asked how it felt for Rider to finally play its first game of the season as the COVID-19 pandemic has gone on for a year now.

“It was interesting and a little unusual,” Inverso said. “We haven’t even had a practice as a team and to be totally honest, I had no idea what to expect.”

Inverso also described his reaction, seeing the team’s first goal going into the net this season since it’s been nearly a year since the team played a game.

“Jubilation pretty much,” Inverso explained. “It was a great run by Araujo and something that we have been working on, just running behind the defense and it was a great ball.”

Inverso was pleased with the way his defense was able to pitch a shutout throughout the entire game when Siena came close to getting on the board multiple times.

“I thought our positioning was really good, to me, one of the biggest factors to me we didn’t let them turn with the ball to midfield and we had a couple guys playing out of position today and they did a good job and I think by not letting them turn with the ball, it took a lot of pressure off our defense,” Inverso said.

Araujo, who was responsible for the game’s only goal, also talked about what it meant for him and his team to finally be out playing.

“We are very fortunate enough to be out on the field this season,” he said.

“This past preseason has been very tough but to be able to go out there after not being able to play for over a year, it just feels amazing.” Araujo continued, “We have all been very hungry to finally go out there and finally play against people other than each other which is great.”

Araujo also described his feeling when we saw his shot go into the net.

“It was a great feeling, especially missing the guys that we were missing because of quarantine. I really had to step up and make plays because the guys on the field really had to step up and get the game going and get the flow going after not playing for a year and [it] felt good personally, but as a team just winning the game and scoring the winning goal was a great feeling,” Araujo said.

The game ended with Siena drawing both a yellow card and a red card after an altercation with some of the players, resulting in one of the Siena players being tossed from the game just as the clock hit zero.

The Broncs will now have time to prepare for another home game at Ben Cohen Field as they take on Iona College on March 18.

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