Men’s College Soccer
Rider University 3, Marist College 1
LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ— Muhammad Ali had Joe Frazier. Arnold Palmer had Jack Nicklaus. Coke has Pepsi. And for the last 21 years, Rider has had Marist.
Marist is Rider’s oldest conference rival, dating back to 1992 when the Broncs joined the Northeast Conference. Both institutions joined the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in 1997.
On Saturday, facing its old nemesis, Rider defeated the Red Foxes of Marist in the first MAAC game of the season.
“It feels good,” said Rider head coach Charlie Inverso. “It was a good win today.”
Rider freshman Christian Flath (Bargeshagen, Germany) had a goal and an assist to lead Rider to its sixth win in nine games.
Flath scored his fifth goal in the 42nd minute of play on a direct kick from 25 yards out when he bent the ball around the wall and just inside the right goal post, the second such goal he scored this year.
“Christian’s a really good kicker,” Inverso said. “He just caught that ball right. He’s a huge asset to us.”
Flath leads the MAAC in assists (five) and is second in the MAAC in goals (five) and points (15).
Rider (6-3, 1-0 MAAC) took a 2-0 lead just 1:39 into the second half when Flath sent a ball in to freshman Warren Holmes (Stoke on Trent, England), who headed it to sophomore James Greco (Long Valley, NJ/West Morris). Greco, who is left-footed, scored with his right foot for the 2-0 advantage.
“Christian played a great ball in and Warren happened to get a head on it and as soon as I took the touch I thought it would go in,” said Greco, describing his first collegiate goal. “It was a good goal for me and for us. There is a huge difference between a 1-0 lead and leading 2-0.”
“With his opposite foot too,” Inverso said. “That was a great goal. It was good to see James get that one. There is an old saying in soccer that a two-goal lead is never safe, and that came back to haunt us.”
Marist (1-8, 0-1 MAAC) came right back and cut the lead to 2-1 three minutes later on a goal from in close after a long pass up the field. “That goal boosted their confidence,” Inverso said.
Rider junior Ryan Walsh (Chesterfield, NJ/Northern Burlington Regional) took a pass from sophomore Justin Veltri (Mays Landing, NJ/Oakcrest) and scored his second goal of the week in the 66th minute for the final score.
“Justin did all the work,” said Walsh, who now has two goals on the season and four in his career. “He came in on the left side and cut it back and I just happened to be there to put it in the net.”
“Hard work on the part of Veltri and Walsh,” Inverso said, “just hard work. And that was a big goal.”
Marist out-shot Rider 20-14, but Rider had seven shots on goal compared to just five by the Red Foxes. “If everything rolled right we might have had five goals today,” Inverso said. “Both teams had opportunities.”
Rider freshman goalkeeper David Pastuna (Robbinsville, NJ) made four saves. Pastuna has started the last six games in the Rider nets and has four wins, including a pair of shutouts. Pastuna is third in the MAAC in goals against average.
Rider travels to Saint Peter’s for a MAAC game Wednesday afternoon. “That will be a tough game, that’s always a tough place to play,” Inverso said. “We’ll enjoy this one first.”
Rider and Marist have met 22 times since 1992 and the Broncs now lead the series with their oldest conference rival 11-10-1.