HAMDEN, CT – Pablo DeCastro (Madrid, Spain/Universidad Francisco de Vittoria) scored his team-leading eighth goal of the year and Pablo Gatinois (Madrid, Spain/Lycee Francais de Madrid [Oregon State]) made a career-high 10 saves as the fifth-seeded Rider University men’s soccer team defeated No. 2 Quinnipiac, 1-0, Sunday afternoon for its third MAAC Championship in four years. With the win, the Broncs’ (10-9-1) fifth-straight shutout, Rider advances to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time. The Broncs will learn their tournament opponent and destination tomorrow (Monday) at 1 p.m. on NCAA.com. The public is invited to the Broncs’ NCAA Tournament Selection Show Watch Party in the Mercer Room of Daly’s Dining Hall on the Rider University campus.
On the game-winning tally, Clement Bourret (Orleans, France/Lycee Jean Giraudoux) crossed from the right to find DeCastro in the box. The redshirt sophomore then shot low inside the right post to beat Bobcats’ goalkeeper Jared Mazzola.
On the other end, Gatinois would not be beat. The sophomore made seven of his 10 saves in the second half, besting his prior single-game high of seven saves (Sept. 29, 2018 at Marist).
Quotes and Notes
“Three and a half weeks ago, we were here and this team was mentally crushed. I have to give them a lot of credit for hanging in there and staying with it.”
“The second half, it’s been pretty much the path we’ve taken the last four games – score early in the second half and then usually we score late in the second half. We were really bending. They were going right through us. You could see signs of fatigue. Earlier in the year, we had thrown in subs to give us fresh legs. But we still thought that keeping possession of the ball was our best way to kind of hold off the lead. I give these guys a lot of credit, because earlier in the year, I think we would’ve surrendered a goal and we didn’t. Gato made a couple of big saves, but the defense has been outstanding.”
“I’ve been doing this a long time – I’ve never seen a season like this. Starting out at 1-5 and then 4-8… a couple of weeks ago, we were seventh in the league. And road wins – they’re probably the most satisfying. Quinnipiac is a great team with two great scorers. We’re here and now we wait to find out who we play tomorrow.”
(On Otmani): “You get very few kids like him in your lifetime that you get to coach, in all honesty. As a player, he’s clutch. As a person, you get maybe four of five guys like this in your lifetime as a coach. I couldn’t be happier for him. The guy’s made four All-Tournament Teams, two Most Valuable Players and he’s going to three NCAA Tournaments. I’ve got to figure he’s going to go down as one of the greatest players to ever play here. And he’s even a better person, if that’s possible. I’m very happy for him.”
“Gato was big. He came up big. He’s a clutch player. And, man, he got to that one ball that was like déjà vu of the goal we gave up here at Quinnipiac – same goal, almost the same amount of time on the board and he just got a piece of it and got to it. He’s been huge for us down the stretch.”
“I also want to give (Assistant Athletic Trainer) Karen (Vassaluzzo) tons of credit. With Mathis and Clem out for a month, they’re really just getting back into form now. She worked with them and got them back, as well as a few other guys. Give her credit. And the three young assistants we have, they’re just brilliant. All the suggestions they have and the plays in practice that they put it, I’m really, really appreciative for all the work that they turn in for us.” – Rider Head Coach Charlie Inverso
- The MAAC Championship is Rider’s fifth all-time. The Broncs also won the title in 1997, 1998, 2015 and 2016.
- A year after Fairfield became just the second program in MAAC history to win its fifth MAAC Championship with a win over the Broncs, Rider follows suit with its fifth title. Only former MAAC member Loyola (MD) has more men’s soccer championships in the league with 12.
- The championship is the Broncs second in as many visits to Hamden for a MAAC title game. Rider also defeated Quinnipiac, 3-1, in the 2016 MAAC Championship Game on Nov. 13, 2016. The games were contested on two different fields, however, with the 2016 tilt being played on Quinnipiac’s former grass surface in the middle of campus. Today’s game was contested on the turf Quinnipiac Soccer & Lacrosse Stadium.
- Rider is made its seventh MAAC Championship Game appearance in 22 years in the league. The Broncs are now 5-2 in Championship Games, having won titles in 1997 (Loyola), 1998 (Fairfield), 2015 (Monmouth), 2016 and 2018 (Quinnipiac), while falling to Marist in 2004 and Fairfield in 2017.
- The Broncs reached the MAAC Championship Game for the fourth-straight year, becoming just the third program in MAAC history to make four-straight MAAC Championship Game appearances. Rider joined Loyola (1989-97) and Fairfield (1998-2002).
- Rider has posted five-straight shutouts. The last time the Broncs allowed a goal was in a 1-0 loss to Saint Peter’s on Oct. 24.
- The Broncs are 16-8-2 in 26 all-time MAAC Tournament contests covering 12 berths.
- The win avenges a devastating 2-1 loss at Quinnipiac on Oct. 17. The Broncs scored the go-ahead goal in the 61st minute before the Bobcats scored twice in a span of less than six minutes with the game-winner coming with 26 seconds remaining.
- Rider now leads the all-time series, 6-3, including a 3-2 record in games in Hamden and a 3-0 mark against the Bobcats in the MAAC Championships. The Broncs also defeated the Bobcats in the 2015 Quarterfinals at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports and the 2016 Championship Game in Hamden.
- Quinnipiac was 7-1-2 at home this season entering today’s game, with the lone loss coming in the season opener against Boston College on Aug. 24. Included in the mark was a 5-0-1 record against MAAC foes.
- For the first time this season, the Broncs earned a win over a MAAC foe when Elliott Otmani (La Ciotat, France/Bonaparte) did not register a point. Nonetheless, Otmani was named MAAC Championship MVP for the second time in his career (2015, 2018). Otmani had a point in Rider’s prior eight wins over MAAC competition, including goals in five.
- Sylvain Coco (Nimes, France/University of Montpellier), Arthur Herpreck (Brest, France/West Brittany) and Gatinois joined Otmani on the MAAC All-Championship Team.
Broncs By The Numbers
- DeCastro’s goal was his team-leading eighth of the season. He’s now matched his goal total from 2017 and now has 16 in less than two seasons in Lawrenceville.
- Bourret’s assist was his third of the season, good for a tie for second on the team with Taner Bay (Webster, NY/Webster Thomas). Only Otmani (10) has more.
- Gatinois has been in goal for all seven Rider shutouts this season.
- Rider took Quinnipiac’s best shot, with the Bobcats taking a 19-10 edge in shots, including 14-4 margin in the second half. The Bobcats also enjoyed a 10-4 advantage in shots on goal.
- Both teams took four corner kicks.