Season Opener Friday
The 2012 Rider University men's soccer team will play the season opener Friday night under the lights of Ben Cohen Field. "Hopefully we'll be able to cause some excitement and attract good crowds this year," said second year head coach Charlie Inverso.
Rider will host cross-state rival Monmouth University (2-0) at 7pm. "It's great that we got Monmouth onto the schedule this year," said Inverso, who compiled a Hall of Fame career at Mercer County Community College with a record of 434-46-14 before coming to Rider last year. "They are always the class of the Northeast Conference and a fixture in the NCAA tournament."
Rider last played Monmouth during the 2008 season, losing 2-0 in West Long Branch to the third ranked team in the Region.
Last season the Hawks advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament, losing 2-1 to UConn to finish the season 14-6-2.
Rider last defeated the Hawks in 1998. Rider is 6-12-2 in the 20 meetings with Monmouth.
The Broncs won a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference playoff game last season for the first time in four years, and return nine starters.
A dozen new faces are also on the roster this year, with the majority of them expected to see a lot of playing time. "It wouldn't surprise me if almost all of them saw significant playing time this year," Inverso said.
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," Inverso said.
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."
In front of the keepers will be sophomore Jens Warncke, junior Eric Elgin and senior Brandon Sebastian. 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.
At midfield the Broncs return fifth-year senior Jonathan Burd, senior Brenden Noesges, sophomore Matt Veltri and senior Ryan Fitzgerald. 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 playoff win over Canisius. Fitzgerald is a veteran of 49 games, including 14 starts last year.
Returning to the front line will be seniors Dan Friga and Dave Benavidez, the team's top two scorers from last year, along with Fitzgerald and sophomore Ryan Walsh. 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.
Following the Monmouth game, Rider returns to Seton Hall on Labor Day, 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.