Women's College Soccer
Rider University 1, New Jersey Institute of Technology 0 (2 o.t.)
LAWRENCEVILLE--Freshman Tara Ballay (Delran, NJ/Delran) scored in the 108th minute of play to give Rider a victory over NJIT in the Broncs' 2012 season opener. "A great start for her and for us," said Rider head coach Drayson Hounsome.
The victory was the first for Rider in a season opener since August 31, 2007. "The last two years we've gone overtime in the first game but we lost 1-0," Hounsome said. "With this veteran group it is nice to see the seniority in the team finally find a way to win."
Ballay took a crossing pass from senior Angela Monaco (Holtsville, N.Y./Sachem) and scored on a header right at the goal mouth for her first collegiate goal and game-winner. At least it was recorded as a header. It was more of a facial.
"Mo (Monaco) played a perfect ball in and I think we had about five players crashing," Ballay said. "I just happen to be on the end of that pass."
"Tara was the one recruit we wanted in a small recruiting class," Hounsome said. "We were fortunate to get her and it showed today how versatile she is. She can play in the back, play in the midfield and today she showed she can score a goal."
"The pace is a lot faster in college," said Ballay, a midfielder who also plays back, "and a lot more physical. My new teammates have been a great help for me getting adjusted."
Rider (1-0) out-shot NJIT (1-1) 22-10, including 10-2 in the first half. "In the first 30 minutes I don't think they crossed the halfway line," Hounsome said. "We got loads of shots but didn't convert them."
Junior Jennifer Meier (Sayville, NY/St. Anthony's) had six of those 22 shots, including two on goal, one that hit the crossbar with 15 minutes remaining in regulation.
Rider senior goalkeeper Jenn Nichols (Stratham, N.H./Exeter) made three saves for the shutout, her first. "Jenn didn't have too much to do but anytime you get a shutout in Division I it is a great effort," Hounsome said.
Samantha Bersett made eight saves for the Highlanders.
Rider defeated NJIT 2-0 last year in Newark. Rider and NJIT split their first two meetings, with the Highlanders winning 2-0 in Newark in 2009 and the Broncs winning 5-2 at Rider in 2010.
The last time Rider was 1-0 was when the Broncs defeated George Mason 2-0 in the first round of the Hartford Fall Classic to begin the 2007 season. Rider was 0-3-1 in season openers over the last four years.
The Broncs continued their dominance on Rider's Ben Cohen Field. Rider is now 17-5-3 in its last 25 home games. "There was a lot of good energy and good effort," Hounsome said. "We haven't even been practicing two weeks yet, so we're nowhere near where we need to be but for the first game it was good."
The Broncs also saw the return of several athletes who suffered injuries last year, including sophomore Becca Kape (Westfield, NJ/Westfield), a MAAC All-Rookie team selection in 2010 who missed all of last season with a foot injury. "It was good to have Becca back out there," Hounsome said. "We got over 19 minutes from her today."
Rider is home again Friday to host Howard University at 5pm. "It was a tough game last year (3-2 overtime Rider win) when we played them," Hounsome said. "I'm expecting another tight, close game."