Rider wins first home games for 4-0 start

By Logan K. VanDine

Rider lacrosse finally had its inaugural home games as they were prepared for an intense stretch of three home games in a span of five days. 

The Broncs gave their fans plenty to celebrate, winning all three home matchups against Saint Francis on Feb. 22, Central Connecticut State on Feb. 24 and Monmouth on Feb. 27, to start their season at a perfect 4-0.

‘We came out strong’

In their first home game, the Broncs picked up right where they left off from their first game of the season as they cruised past Saint Francis 19-13 in the first of three home games at Ben Cohen Field on Feb. 22.

After scoring 19 goals in their first game against Fairleigh Dickinson, the Broncs’ offense did not show signs of slowing down as 40 seconds into the game, sophomore midfielder Katie Walsh started scoring off by netting her first goal of the afternoon to give Rider a quick 1-0 lead.

Walsh did not stop there as she scored her second goal just under a minute later to make the game 2-0 as Rider had a 6-2 advantage over the Red Flash by the end of the first quarter.

“We came out strong, we used each other, it was a different defense that ran than what we run, but we worked well and saw those cuts and we did good,” Walsh said.

Despite being outscored 3-1 by the Red Flash in the second quarter, the offense picked up in the third quarter as they outscored Saint Francis 9-3, which proved to be the difference maker as for the second straight game, the Broncs scored 19 goals.

Head Coach Evan Mager said, “We came out firing, which is exciting to see because I think it the hardest thing to do, but I think with the first game and the excitement of playing here that’s why they did.”

Next to Walsh, the Broncs’ leading scorers were junior attacker Selena Carrington, who also had five goals, and graduate student midfielder Kylee Garcia who scored four.

‘Defense was a game-changer’

The Broncs’ offense was a main factor in their 2-0 start to the regular season. On Feb. 24, not only was their offense humming once again, but the Broncs’ defense stepped up as well, as Rider took down Central Connecticut State 17-3 to move to 3-0 on the season.

The Broncs have tended to score early and first in their games so far this season, and after the match was scoreless for nearly the first five minutes, junior attacker Toni Gismondi changed that with the first of her five-goal outing.

“It was all about the timing I had my teammates with me,” Gismondi said. “Most of my goals were assisted so I have to thank them for that to just keep our heads up and step into a new role today.”

The Broncs added four more goals in the first quarter, the defense also pitching  a shutout to give Rider a 5-0 lead over the Blue Devils.

The Broncs’ offensive attack only got better from there, as they tacked on six more goals in the second and three in the third and fourth to give the Broncs a dominating win. 

The Broncs’ defense was also up to par, as they did not allow a single Blue Devils goal in the first half.

“Our defense was kind of a game-changer for us and they kept us going, Nicole [Caldarone] got her first start, played the whole game and made some big saves and had a shutout through the first half,” Mager said. 

Freshman goalkeeper Nicole Calderone, who had five saves, talked about what was working for her in the afternoon to only allow three goals and gave credit to her defense for her success in the net.

“My defense keeps me in it, I trust them so much and I know they have my back through it all,” Caldarone said.

A perfect home start

In its third straight home game, Rider held on to defeat Monmouth on Feb. 27 12-10 to start their season at a perfect 4-0.

The Broncs’ offense got off to a fast start in the first quarter with Carrington scoring the game’s first goal three minutes in followed by graduate student attacker Anna Devlin scoring the Broncs’ second, as they eventually ended the first quarter with a 7-2 lead.

Despite the Broncs being shutout 4-0 in the second quarter, Rider did not trail at all in the game as just four goals in the second half were enough to secure the win.

The Broncs return home on March 1 to take on the Oregon Ducks at 3 p.m. 

The game can be streamed on ESPN+.  

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