Women's College Soccer
Rider University 2, Howard University 0
LAWRENCEVILLE-Freshman Tara Ballay (Delran, NJ/Delran) scored her second goal in as many games and junior Jody Sokol (Bensalem, PA/Bensalem) scored the insurance goal to lead Rider to victory over Howard Friday afternoon.
With the victory the Broncs are 2-0 for the first time since 2001 when Rider began that season a best-ever 3-0. "Two and oh, that's a nice start," said Rider head coach Drayson Hounsome. "Last year we out-shot our first two opponents 56-23 and we were 0-1-1, so it is good to be two and oh."
Ballay took a pass from senior Abi Cottam (Leominster, England/Ludlow) and scored in the 57th minute of play to give the Broncs a 1-0 lead. "Tara is getting on the end of some crosses and playing well," Hounsome said.
"Abi played a great ball through," Ballay said, "and set me up perfect."
The assist by Cottam was the 21st of her career, breaking the Rider record of 20 set in 2000 by Lindsay Adams. "That is brilliant for her," Hounsome said. "She played a delicate through ball to Tara. That's what makes great players, when the game is on the balance making plays like that."
"I didn't even know about it (breaking the record) until after the game when they announced it," said Cottam, who also ranks fourth in both career goals and points at Rider, "but I am proud of it. Because I missed almost all of my freshman year I never thought setting any career records would be possible but I guess they are now."
Last season Cottam was a second team All-Region selection after she led the entire Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in goals, assists and points.
Sokol took a pass from junior Bridgette Bartkowski (Marlton, NJ/Cherokee) and scored her eighth career goal with 3:31 left to play to seal the victory. Bartkowski, who started all 19 games last year, had just come into the game off the bench prior to the goal. "Bartkowski came on and with her first touch creates the second goal," Hounsome said.
Rider senior goalkeeper Jenn Nichols (Stratham, N.H./Exeter) made four saves for her second shutout in as many games this year. "Just a great way to start the season," Nichols said. "It is a huge credit to the defense, keeping the shot-count low. One of my goals is to get as many shutouts as possible, but the ultimate goal is for us to win the MAAC."
Rider out-shot Howard (0-3-1) 23-9. Rider has six corner kicks to Howard's one. "It was a professional job today," Hounsome said. "We got the job done against a tough team that is well-organized. We had the discipline to stick to a different game plan and the players followed it. I'm very happy with our performance today."
Rider defeated Howard 3-2 in overtime last season. "We have a lot more experience this year," Cottam said, "and the freshmen have fit in really quickly. We seem more mentally focused this year."
Howard tied Loyola 1-1 on Wednesday. Loyola is picked to finish third in the MAAC this year.
Rider and Howard have now met five times, with Rider winning four.
Rider travels to Emmitsburg, Maryland to take on Mount Saint Mary's in a 3pm game Sunday afternoon.