Rider routed by Princeton to enter MAAC play 1-5-1

By Jake Tiger

For the finale of an arduous non-conference schedule, Rider men’s soccer hiked up to Princeton for one last test ahead of Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) play. The outcome was a 3-0 walloping from start to finish, as the Tigers preyed on a patchwork lineup, leaving Rider praying for an answer.

“They were the better team tonight,” said Head Coach Charlie Inverso. “I think we were trying to overplay, and we had said in the scouting report that we didn’t want to overplay.”

The Broncs played without graduate student forward Zaki Alibou and junior midfielder Adel Al-Masude, two critical cogs in their offense. Al-Masude currently leads the team in goals with two, while Alibou, the reigning MAAC Offensive Player of the Year, has had injuries limit him to just 87 scoreless minutes of play on the season.

“We have injuries every year going into conference play,” said senior back Brendan Fischer. “It’s something we’re able to deal with but it was definitely a factor. … All 18 guys should be able to function on the field.”

The Tigers attacked early and often, launching a 21-shot barrage that dwarfed Rider’s total of six. Within three minutes of kickoff, they had fired off a triplet of shots at senior goalkeeper Guillaume Veinante. Veinante saved the first two attempts, but the third strike skipped by him and the Broncs were already behind.

“I thought we gave away a horrendous goal in the early minutes and that put us on our heels,” said Inverso.

Early goals have been a consistent problem for Rider, with 13 of 16 goals allowed coming in the first half. Inarguably, the statistic has defined Rider’s season thus far.

“We worked pretty hard, came up with a decent gameplan, but in the end, a couple of easy mistakes… that kinda put us down early,” said senior back Brendan Fischer.

Rider was able to hold Princeton to one goal in the first, so an equalizer was well within reach, but the shorthanded and disfluent offense had only managed one shot up to that point.

At times, players voiced their frustrations with each other on the field, as their lack of chemistry led to feisty reactions and diluted results.

Unfortunately for the Broncs, a second-half comeback was not in the cards, with the Tigers punching in goals in the 53rd and 61st minutes to make it a 3-0 game.

Five minutes after Princeton’s third score, Veinante was subbed out for freshman goalkeeper Ben Collins who had yet to see any collegiate minutes between the posts. Inverso said the coaching staff has a lot of confidence in Veinante going forward, and simply wanted to give Collins some experience.

Fischer said, “A lot of new guys got minutes coming off the bench, myself even. There’s positives to be
had going into conference play… but obviously losing three-nil is never a good thing.”

With the defeat, Rider dropped to 1-5-1, its worst start since 2018. However, the record is understandable given the strength of opponents such as Seton Hall, Virginia, UPenn and Rutgers.

“We started 1-5-1 not too long ago and we made it to the finals,” said Inverso. “We took on a really tough pre-conference schedule and it only made us better.”

The battle-tested Broncs hope to win when it counts, as they begin MAAC play by hosting Manhattan on Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.

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