HAMDEN, CONN. – Penalty shootouts. The thrill of victory. The agony of defeat. Six days after experiencing the exultation of prevailing in penalties in the program’s first-ever postseason home match, Siena Soccer suffered the opposite outcome. After playing to a 2-2 draw through regulation and a pair of overtime periods, defending tournament champion and No. 2 seed Rider punched its ticket back to the title match with a 3-1 triumph in penalty kicks over the third seeded Saints in the MAAC Semifinals.
Rider (12-3-3) advances to the MAAC Championship Match Sunday at 1 p.m. against regular season champion and tournament host Quinnipiac at 1 p.m. The top-seeded Bobcats defeated No. 5 seed Canisius 3-1 earlier in the day.
Siena caps its 2016 season with a final record of 8-8-5 after coming up just short in their bid to advance to the MAAC Championship Match for the first time in program history. The Saints are now 0-11-2 all-time in MAAC Semifinals matches.
Christian Flath scored the decisive penalty in the fifth round for the Broncs, which prevailed in a tightly contested MAAC Semifinals rematch between the programs. Rider captured a 3-2 win over the Saints in last year’s semifinals in Florida en route to securing the program’s third MAAC Championship.
Siena led 1-0 through the first two rounds of the shootout, but Adrien Huss, Fernando Pina and Flath all converted in succession for the Broncs while the Saints missed their final three attempts.
Flath bookended the scoring, putting Rider in front 1-0 in the 39th minute. But the Saints responded almost immediately, as just 40 seconds later sophomore captain J.C. Obregon’s long free kick deflected off a defender and in for the equalizing own goal.
Siena went in front in the 51st minute tallying a second goal against the MAAC’s top scoring defense, when junior striker Alexander Tejera worked hard and was taken down in the box as the Saints were awarded a penalty kick. Tejera took the attempt himself and buried his seventh goal of the season, while improving to a perfect 5-for-5 on the season in penalty kicks.
But in the 76th minute, Clement Bourret scored the tying goal for the Broncs to send the match to overtime and eventually the shootout for Rider which ran its unbeaten streak to eight. The Broncs entered play ranked first in this week’s NSCAA Northeast Regional Rankings, and were receiving 15 votes marking the 29th highest total in the nation in the NSCAA Top-25 Coaches’ Poll.
Rider held a 24-15 advantage in shots, while Siena harbored a 9-8 margin in corners. Junior goalkeeper Aleksa Radosavljevic made a career-high 10 saves for the Saints, while MAAC co-Goalkeeper of the Year Ryan Baird stopped four shots for the Broncs.
The future is bright for a Siena Soccer program which advanced to consecutive MAAC Semifinals matches. While the Saints do graduate eight seniors who were highly influential in the program’s recent successes, Siena is expected to return seven starters including Radosavljevic in goal, plus five of its top-six scorers heading into the 2017 campaign.