Men's College Soccer
Iona College 2, Rider University 1
LAWRENCEVILLE-Playing a man short, the Broncs lost a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game to preseason favorite Iona on Ben Cohen Field Friday night. "I thought we did a pretty decent job of doing all of the things we've been trying to do," said Rider head coach Charlie Inverso. "A few breaks here or there and the game could have gone either way."
Rider (1-7-1, 0-1 MAAC) tied the score at 1-1 with a goal by junior Dave Benavidez (Peoria, Ill/Richwoods) with 7:03 left in the game. "We knew coming in these guys were the top team in the conference and we wanted to play well for our fans," said Benavidez, a transfer from Illinois Central College. "And I think we did. It was just unlucky."
The Broncs received a red-card two minutes later and had to play the final 5:12 a man down. "It's a tough way to lose, on a controversial goal," Inverso said. "I'm trying to give the referee the benefit of the doubt, I didn't see the play. I looked up and we're getting a red card."
Iona (8-1, 1-0 MAAC) scored the game-winner with an unassisted goal with just 39 seconds left in regulation. "We made them fight to the very end," Inverso said.
The Gales, who were ranked 25th in the nation before losing to 14th ranked St. John's last week, scored in the 17th minute of play and held the lead for 65 minutes.
Rider junior Dan Friga (Clifton, N.J./Passaic County Tech) set up the tying goal by Benavidez with a pass in front. "Friga laid off a nice ball and Dave finished up," Inverso said. "It would be nice to finish off more of those."
"The ball was played into Friga," Benavidez said, "and he did a nice job of holding onto it. I made a run and he played a great ball in. He deserves the credit for that goal."
Iona out-shot Rider 19-8, including 8-3 in shots on goal. "I thought possession throughout the game was pretty even," Inverso said, "or even favored us. For sure in the second half."
Rider junior goalkeeper Jason Giordano (Massapequa Park, N.Y./Massapequa) made six saves.
"It is starting to sound like a broken record, but I am proud of our effort," Inverso said. "But it still is not good enough."
Rider lost 3-1 at Iona last year and 1-0 to Iona here in Lawrenceville in 2009. Rider and Iona have now met 15 times since the series began in 1997 with Rider winning six (one tie), the last Bronc victory coming in 2005.
"I think we gave them quite a game," Benavidez said. "I think we gave the fans what they came to see and that's what we're going to keep doing. We want teams to know that when they play us they are going to get quite a battle."
The Broncs return to Ben Cohen Field Sunday to host Fairfield at 1pm. "I think these guys will be ready," Inverso said.
A Rider Soccer Alumni Game will take place Sunday morning.