Men's College Soccer
Fairfield University 3, Rider University 2 (OT)
LAWRENCEVILLE-If only soccer games were 89 minutes long, the Broncs may be undefeated in the conference.
The Broncs hosted the top two teams in the preseason poll over the weekend, falling to Iona by a goal in the final minute Friday night and now falling to Fairfield after giving up the tying goal in the final minute.
Despite out-shooting the visiting Stags Rider lost a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game to Fairfield in overtime Sunday afternoon. "We haven't learned how to hold a lead," said Rider head coach Charlie Inverso. "We haven't been in that situation enough."
After trailing 2-1, Fairfield (3-4, 2-0 MAAC) scored the game-winner 8:36 into the extra period on a header off of a cross. "Credit Fairfield," Inverso said. "They tried to do the right thing."
Rider (1-8-1, 0-2 MAAC) took a 1-0 lead 10 minutes into the game when junior Brenden Noesges (Freehold, N.J./Freehold Township) served the ball into the goal mouth, junior Dave Benavidez (Peoria, Ill/Richwoods) got a foot on it and just before it crossed the goal line junior Dan Friga (Clifton, N.J./Passaic County Tech) booted it home.
Fairfield (3-4, 2-0 MAAC) tied the score at 1-1 with 21:29 remaining.
Friga took another pass from Noesges and gave the Broncs a 2-1 lead with less than seven minutes left in regulation. The goal was the third of the season for Friga.
"These guys deserve to have something good go our way today," Inverso said. "I thought it was for a while today. It just didn't work out."
The Stags tied the score at 2-2 with just 56 seconds left in the second half. "We probably should have tried to get more guys back but different things happen during the flow of a game," Inverso said.
Rider junior goalkeeper Jason Giordano (Massapequa Park, N.Y./Massapequa) made three saves. "Gio did a great job today," Inverso said.
Rider out-shot Fairfield 11-10, but Fairfield had six shots on goal to Rider's five. Fairfield had eight corner kicks to Rider's three.
The Broncs lost 1-0 at Fairfield last year in the season finale. Rider lost 5-1 the last time Fairfield came to Lawrenceville, in 2009. Rider and Fairfield have now met 19 times since the series began in 1996 with Rider winning five, the last Bronc win coming in 2004.
"Nobody can look and see an easy 'W' when they see us coming anymore," Inverso said. "These were the teams that were picked to finish one and two in the conference and we battled them both down to the wire."
Rider travels to Saint Peter's for a MAAC game Friday afternoon. "We just have to regroup and get ready for next weekend," Inverso said.