LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ – The Rider University men’s soccer team built a 2-0 lead, but fell to Fairfield on a late own goal, 3-2, Saturday night on Ben Cohen Field. The game was a rematch of the 2017 MAAC Championship Game. With the loss, the Broncs slip to 4-7-1 (3-2-0 MAAC), while the Stags are now 8-4-0 (5-0-0 MAAC).
The Broncs struck first in the 39th minute, as Pablo DeCastro (Madrid, Spain/Universidad Francisco de Vittoria) finished an Elliott Otmani (La Ciotat, France/Bonaparte) cross on one touch from close range. Less than four minutes into the second half, the Broncs built the lead to 2-0 as Santiago Garcia Castro (Philadelphia, PA/Prep Charter) played the ball into the midfield and it was headed on by Taner Bay (Webster, NY/Webster Thomas) into the box to Otmani. The graduate student was left 1v1 with Fairfield goalkeeper Gordon Botterill.
But Fairfield would score the game’s final three goals. In the 60th minute, Daniel Bjorck was there for the rebound of a Fernando Robayo shot to cut the Broncs lead in half, before Nadav Zarmi finished off a goal similar to Otmani’s. Botterill’s free kick from just beyond the midfield stripe was headed on by Cormac Pike, finding Zarmi into the box for a 1v1 opportunity. In the 85th minute, a hard pass across the top of the 18-yard box deflected off a Broncs defender and into the goal for what proved to be the game winner.
Quotes and Notes
“It’s obviously tough. Painful loss. I thought we scored two good goals. I thought we played really well. I wish we could’ve scored that second goal maybe with 10 minutes left instead of so early in the half. It’s been said a million times in soccer that a 2-0 lead is not a secure lead – it’s the worst lead you can half. It forces you to kind of question yourself. Do we sit back and play defensively? Do we go for the third knockout goal? But I also think we still had some guys on the field who are just coming back from injuries and aren’t used to playing as many minutes. So I think that may have been the reason why we hit a wall. (Fairfield) looked a lot fresher.” – Rider Head Coach Charlie Inverso
- Fairfield improved its lead in the all-time series with the Broncs to 20-8-1, including a pair of wins last season. The Broncs had won the prior three regular-season meetings between the two teams prior to 2017.
- Rider was celebrating its Senior Night Saturday. Prior to the game, seniors Castro, Otmani, Raejae Joseph (St. Croix, US Virgin Islands/St. Croix Education Complex), Andrew Crawford (Buffalo, NY/Williamsville South), Mike Wherley (Hamilton, NJ/Steinert) and Borja Ares Ortiz (Entramasaguas, Cantabria, Spain/Universidad Europea del Atlantico) were honored.
- Garcia Castro registered his first assist of the year, the second of his career, while Bay’s assist was his first-career point.
- Rider was playing without its two starting center backs – Arthur Herpreck (Brest, France/West Brittany) and Sylvain Coco (Nimes, France/University of Montpellier) – due to a pair of yellow cards last time out and a fifth caution of the year, respectively.
Broncs By The Numbers
- Fairfield took an 11-10 edge in shots, including a 7-4 advantage in shots on target. Nine of the Stags’ shots came in the second half.
- The Stags took four corner kicks to the Broncs’ two.
- DeCastro briefly tied Otmani for the team lead in goals with his fourth before Otmani’s goal gave him five on the season.
- Otmani’s three points on the night give him 28 goals, 16 assists and 72 points for his career. Only seven Broncs have ever scored 30 goals and only eight have 20 career assists.
- Pablo Gatinois (Madrid, Spain/Lycee Francais de Madrid [Oregon State]) made four saves in net for the Broncs.