In Charlie Inverso's first season as the Rider head coach, the Broncs won their first playoff game in four years. "I don't know if there is a lot of carry-over into this year," said Inverso, "but that is something we can point to."
Although the team won just four games last year, the Broncs were on the losing end of 10 one-goal losses, three in overtime and nine in the regular season. Even if Rider went just 3-3-3 in those nine games, the Broncs would have finished with a .500 record.
"That shows me that we were competing," said Inverso, now in his second season at Rider. "The one thing that really stands out in my mind about last year is that I never had to come into the locker room and get after the guys for lack of effort."
With the return of nine starters, the 2012 Broncs look to improve on what they accomplished in 2011.
"It's certainly a good thing to have that many guys coming back," Inverso said, "but the key to this year is our depth. We have nine freshmen coming in who we expect to be among our top 18-19 players. That makes the practices better, makes the competition for spots better, makes us as a team better."
Perrella is a veteran of 41 games in the Rider net, while Giordano played in nine games over the last two years.
"Matt and Gio have been here for a few years and will be competing for the job," Inverso said. "I am happy with both of them so far in preseason. We also have Vince Pelegrino, a transfer, who we feel can come in and do the job if necessary."
Warncke earned MAAC All-Rookie team honors last year, starting all 19 games. Elgin started all 19 games at center back last year and Sebastian is a veteran of 44 games.
"Jens and Elgin both played close to every minute last season," Inverso said. "Boots (Sebastian) is a senior and will add some leadership this year as well. At the left back spot we will have one of three freshmen fighting for the spot, Somini Halliday, Rory Duffy and Tyler Morris."
Halliday was twice a First Team All-South Jersey selection at Timber Creek High, leading his team to the Group III Championship Game. Duffy led Saint Peter's Prep to the Hudson County Title last year and Morris was a Third Team All-State defender for Montclair High.
"We think any one of those guys can come in and do a good job," Inverso said.
Burd started 17 games last season, including the season opener when his goal defeated Seton Hall 1-0. Noesges started every game last year and was second on the team in assists. Veltri made 11 starts as a rookie last year and scored in the MAAC p-layoff win over Canisius. Fitzgerald is a veteran of 49 games, including 14 starts last year.
"JB (Burd) is as solid a guy as you are going to meet," Inverso said. "I've rarely seen a player who maximizes his talents as much as JB. Veltri has improved, made some good changes. He's more discipline and makes better choices. Noesges is another solid guy who gives you everything he has. Fitz has had a great first week of practice."
Friga has 10 career goals, including the game-winner in the MAAC playoffs last year. Benavidez transferred to Rider and in his first season as a Bronc compiled seven points in eight starts.
"We did not do a very good job of getting the ball to our scorers in good positions to score," Inverso said. "We were determined to try to set the standard for the way we want to play, regardless of wins and losses. We weren't going to just whack it and try to muddy up the game, play ugly to try to steal a win. We want to play the game the right way, and I thought we made some progress in that area."
A dozen new faces are on the roster this year, with the majority of them expected to see a lot of playing time. "With the recruiting we emphasized guys who could possess the ball and keep it moving," Inverso said. "It wouldn't surprise me if almost all of them saw significant playing time this year. "
Two late recruits from Germany who have stood out in preseason are Matti Grahle and Yannic Fallack. "Matti has stepped in and earned the respect of all of his teammates at center midfield, while Yannic is expected to see a lot of playing time."
The Broncs open the season with a Friday night home game with cross-state rival Monmouth. "It's great that we got Monmouth on the schedule," Inverso said. "They are always the class of the Northeast Conference and a fixture in the NCAA tournament."
Rider returns to Seton Hall, where the Broncs pulled off a 1-0 upset win in Coach Inverso's Rider debut. "I'm sure they will be ready for us," Inverso said.
The Broncs will shuttle between Brooklyn and Philadelphia in September, playing at Long Island and Saint Joseph's while hosting Saint Francis-NY and Temple. Rider has an Ivy League weekend September 21-23. "We play two teams that are always contending for the Ivy League crown," Inverso said.
The Broncs play cross-town rival Princeton on Friday night and come back to play the University of Pennsylvania at Princeton Sunday afternoon. "Princeton on a Friday night should be a great atmosphere," Inverso said. "It is one of the best facilities in the country. We're going to be playing two teams that really play soccer the right way. These two and Monmouth are real upgrades in our schedule."
The MAAC scheduled beings with the Western NY trip to Canisius and Niagara. "We make that trip at a good part of the year," Inverso said. "It will be cold but we shouldn't see anything severe."
Five of the final seven games are home, including the final three, as the Broncs build momentum toward the four-team MAAC Championship tournament, hosted by Loyola. "Playing those last three games at home is going to be great," Inverso said.
The Broncs close out the regular season with a 7pm Senior Night against Loyola. November 2. "We want Senior Day to be special," Inverso said.
"Our goals remains to try to play the kind of soccer that we ultimately think we want to play here," Inverso said. "We're going to be competitive and improved, but does that translate into more wins? I don't know. The players believe we can win and be a good team this year. We're deeper this year and we have more talent. I think we're going to play better soccer."