By Dain Smith and Richard Saile
RIDER women’s soccer is headed back to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament semifinals for the first time since the shortened 2020-21 season.
On Oct. 25 against Mount St. Mary’s, the Broncs were able to clinch a spot and a few days later on Oct. 29 the Broncs won their tournament game.
The Broncs lost their last regular season matchup to Mount St. Mary’s, 1-0.
Despite the shutout loss, Rider still secured its 11th consecutive MAAC Tournament berth on Oct. 25 and entered as the sixth seed at 6-8-2 with a conference record of 4-5-1.
The only goal of the match came from the Mountaineers in the 78th minute when Mount St. Mary’s scored off a header that managed to get past All-MAAC second team senior goalkeeper Ellie Sciancalepore.
The Mountaineers continued to control the ball for the rest of the allotted time, but in the end, Rider had a chance near enemy territory with a corner kick but the ball could not find the back of the net to tie it up.
In total, the Broncs had more shot attempts than Mount St. Marys, but were even on shots on goal with both the Broncs and Mountaineers having four.
Head Coach Drayson Hounsome said, “We have to do whatever we can to win, we beat them 1-0 already. Our first half performance against them was good, second half goals changed the game and when we scored they changed things a little bit so we will be preparing like when we played them two weeks ago.”
Hounsome proceeded to say what he learned from the loss to Mount St. Marys.
“It reminds you that the game comes down to moments, it’s not who has the most possessions, it’s not who has the most shots,” Hounsome explained.
On a windy, rainy afternoon on Oct. 29, Rider traveled to Buffalo, New York, to take on the Canisius Golden Griffins. In a rematch of last season’s opening round game, the Broncs were back against the same team that ended their season last year.
The game started with Canisius coming out aggressive offensively and the Broncs defense preventing the early shots-on-goal from the Griffins. The first and only goal of the game came in the 19th minute by All-MAAC third team graduate student forward Chloe Fisher scoring on a header towards the far post inside the 18-yard box assisted by freshman midfielder Ava Ferrie off a cross.
The goal was Fisher’s fourth of the season and her MAAC-best fourth game-winning goal of the campaign. The Broncs were up 1-0 at the end of the first half, but Canisius did not go away easy.
In the second half of the match, the Griffins came out aggressive and pressured the Broncs defense with 16 of their 22 shots and three of their four shots on goal in the last 45 minutes.
The closest the Griffins got was in the 55th minute where Sciancalepore jumped up and pushed the ball over the crossbar, denying the chance for the Griffs to tie the match.
Another opportunity came in the 57th minute when the Griffins’ leading scorer tried to hit a shot from a sharp angle and forced Sciancalepore to make a huge stop as the sixth-seeded Broncs held on to upset three-seeded Griffins 1-0.
Sciancalepore made four saves in the shutout, her fifth of the season, and 15th of her career which is second all-time in Broncs history.
The win gave the Broncs their first MAAC Tournament victory and first semifinal appearance since the shortened 2020-21 spring season when the Broncs defeated Manhattan 2-1.
“It was a great win today and I’m super proud of the effort. I think Canisius is an outstanding team with some excellent players so to travel up and win 1-0 on their turf is very hard to do,” Hounsome said.“Our group showed great character to handle and absorb pressure. We’ll rest up and get ready.”
The Broncs now advance to the semifinal and travel to take on top-seeded Quinnipiac on Nov. 2 at 2 p.m.