Siena Soccer soccer continues its quest for the program's first MAAC Championship when the third seeded Saints battle No. 2 seed and reigning champion Rider in the conference tournament semifinals Friday. Match time is set for 1 p.m. from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut.
The match will be webstreamed online at MAAC.TV. In addition to watching the match, follow along by clicking the corresponding MAAC Tournament Central and live stats links at the top of the page. Social media updates will be provided throughout by following @SienaSoccer on twitter. Join the conversation by using the hashtags #SienaSaints and #MAACSoccer.
The winner of today's contest will advance to the MAAC Championship Match Sunday at 1 p.m., hosted by Quinnipiac. The regular season champion Bobcats host fifth seeded Canisius in Friday's first semifinal at 10 a.m.
Siena in the MAAC Championships
Record: 7-14-3 (17th Appearance)
Vs. Rider: 1-2
Siena is fresh off the first-ever postseason home match in the program's 43-season history, in which the Saints proved triumphant over No. 6 seed Monmouth Saturday. Following a scoreless tie through the full 90 minutes plus both overtime periods, Siena prevailed 3-1 in the penalty shootout. Each of the Saints' three shooters - Second Team All-MAAC selection Milorad Sobot, junior striker Paolino Curto, and senior midfielder David Itoafa - all scored, while junior goalkeeper Aleksa Radosavljevic denied the final three shooters he faced. Siena controlled the match in holding a 20-8 advantage in shots, and the Saints also harbored a decisive 13-4 margin in corners.
Siena and Rider meet in a rematch of last year's MAAC Semifinals, in which the Broncs prevailed 3-2 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida en route to capturing the championship. Not only are the Saints looking to make history by capturing the program's first-ever MAAC Championship this weekend, but are also seeking to advance to their first championship match. Siena has 12 times previously advanced to the MAAC Semifinals, but have lost in the round 11 times and also fell in penalties in 1994. The Saints have been outscored by a 34-8 margin over the program's first 12 MAAC Semifinals appearances.
Overall, Siena is making its 17th MAAC Tournament appearance in 28 seasons in the conference, including their third straight and eighth in the past 10 seasons. Siena's No. 3 seed marks the program's highest seeding since 2012. The Saints advanced to the MAAC Semifinals last year, winning multiple MAAC Tournament matches for the first time in program history. Siena is just 2-10-2 all-time in MAAC Tournament matches outside the state of Florida, where the Saints have posted five of the program's seven all-time postseason victories.
The Series With Rider (24th Meeting: Siena leads, 10-9-4)
Siena leads a tight all-time series, 10-9-4. However, Rider has captured the last four matchups while totaling 14 goals.
The Broncs, who were receiving votes in the NSCAA Top-25 Coaches Poll in the regular season meeting between the teams Oct. 8, prevailed 2-1 in Lawrenceville. All three goals came over a 16 and a half minute span early in the second half, with the Saints the beneficiaries of a Rider own goal in the 47th minute, and the Broncs receiving scores from Joe Panuccio (51') and Clement Bourret (64'). The Broncs held slim edges in both shots (15-13) and corners (7-5). Radosavljevic made five saves for Siena.
The programs are meeting for the fourth time in MAAC Tournament play, with Rider having captured two of the first three matchups. Prior to last season's triumph, the top-seeded Broncs also defeated the fourth-seeded Saints 3-0 in the 1997 MAAC Semifinals in Baltimore. No. 8 seed Siena posted a 6-2 victory over ninth-seeded Rider in the First Round of the 2007 MAAC Tournament in Florida.
Scouting Siena (8-8-4)
Siena exceeded expectations during the regular season, finishing third in the conference standings after being projected to finish fifth according to the MAAC Preseason Coaches' Poll. The Saints rebounded after going winless in seven of their first eight matches, having posted a 7-3-2 mark since. Siena played a grueling non-conference schedule in preparing for MAAC play and it paid off. The Saints played three non-conference foes which won either or both their conference's regular season and/or tournament championships last season, and between MAAC and non-league foes have played five of the 10 teams that are ranked in the latest NSCAA Northeast Regional rankings.
On the offensive side of the field, Siena leads the MAAC averaging 6.1 corners, and ranks second in scoring (1.55), assists (1.35) and shots (13.6). The Saints rank 28th nationally with 30 assists and are led in the category by unanimous MAAC All-Rookie Team selection and two-time MAAC Rookie of the Week Conor McGlynn. The striker ranks second amongst Division I freshman and tied for 18th overall nationally with eight assists. McGlynn has also added a pair of game-winning goals in totaling 12 points during his impressive rookie campaign.
McGlynn is joined on the attack by Second Team All-MAAC selection Junior Rosero and junior Alexander Tejera. Both strikers have collected MAAC Offensive Player of the Week honors this season and are tied for the team lead with six goals, which is tied for fifth in the MAAC. Rosero leads a balanced attack with 15 points (8th - MAAC), followed by Tejera with 14 (T-9th MAAC), McGlynn and sophomore captain J.C. Obregon with 11. Rosero leads the MAAC and ranks second nationally averaging 4.72 shots per match.
On the defensive half of the field, Radosavljevic has played all but one half in goal in his first season donning the Green and Gold. The junior transfer ranks third nationally in goalkeeper minutes played (1836:25), and ranks third in the MAAC in saves (77), tied for fifth in shutouts (four), tied for seventh in save save percentage (.733), and eighth in goals against average (1.37).
The Saints are led by veteran head coach Cesar Markovic who has accumulated 199 career head coaching victories in 22 seasons at five different institutions. He is the winningest head coach in program history at each of his first four head coaching stops, and has led three of those programs to the NCAA Tournament. Markovic holds a 33-36-10 record in his four seasons at Siena, including a 19-16-5 in MAAC Regular Season competition.
Scouting Rider (12-3-2, 7-1-2)
The defending MAAC Champions carry a five-match winning streak and a seven-match unbeaten streak into their conference tournament opener, after receiving a bye by virtue of being seeded second. Rider has been amongst teams also receiving votes in the NSCAA Top-25 Coaches' Poll for most of the season, and enters today's matchup receiving 15 votes marking the 29th highest total in the nation. The Broncs are also ranked first in the Northeast in this week's NSCAA Regional Rankings. Rider is 11-7-1 all-time in the program's MAAC Tournament history, and has captured three titles (1997, 1998, 2015).
The Broncs boast the conference's top scoring defense bequeathing just 0.91 goals per match, thanks in large part to MAAC co-Goalkeeper of the Year and First Team All-MAAC selection Ryan Baird. In all, Rider had seven players named to All-MAAC Teams including leading scorer Jose Aguinaga (16) who is tied with McGlynn for the conference lead with eight assists.