The Long Island Rough Riders women’s team was plagued with inconsistency throughout the 2018 UWS season, but hit their stride down the stretch to have a chance to qualify for the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Despite winning their final three matches, including the season finale against league leaders Inferno Rush, the Rough Riders (5-3-2) were left on the outside looking in, finishing tied for third in the division with 17 points.
“We were very inconsistent throughout the season and to be honest through games as well,” first-year head coach Karim Diallo said. “At times we had poor starts and then picked it up, and some games it was the opposite. Obviously I was getting to know the girls as the season was unfolding but that is not an excuse. We just didn’t get the job done as a whole. The goal was to win a National Championship.”
The Rough Riders opened the 2018 campaign with a 3-1 defeat to Western New York Flash, but bounced back with a three-match unbeaten run, while outscoring opponents 9-4. Long Island picked up one point over the next three matches, suffering losses at Rochester Lancers (2-1 on June 9) and New Jersey Copa FC (3-1 on June 27).
The Rough Riders concluded the season with three consecutive wins, including an 9-1 thrashing against Worcester Smiles on July 7. A 1-0 win against Inferno Rush put the onus on Connecticut Fusion, which needed to win its season finale in order to qualify for the conference playoffs, which they did.
“The fire didn’t seem to be there,” Diallo said. “At times we didn’t do well because we didn’t play as a team. We had talented players doing their things and it wasn’t all put together. More times than not I believe a team will be more successful than a group of talented players. We had talent for sure, but we needed to be a team.”
Kayla Saager scored a team-leading six goals this season, while Erica Modena added five. Morgan Santoro scored four goals, while Laura Gomez, Taylor Elliott and Marisa Garcia netted two goals apiece.
“We had very slow starts to the games and to have any kind of success next year that has to change,” Diallo said. “We again have the talent, so being in front and dictating the pace of games is something we could and should be doing in this conference. We need to retain most of the roster from this year and add a few pieces for next season.”
BY: Michael LoRé