By Ryan Connelly
The field hockey team came out firing in their season opener, coming away with a 5-1 win over Davidson. Along with the win, freshman defender Eline De Jong won MAAC Rookie of the Week.
In the first six minutes of the game, De Jong scored her first goal, then later scored another in the second half.
Head Coach Lori Hussong said, “We knew coming in that Eline was a gifted player, and we’re so proud of her efforts against Davidson. Most freshmen need a little time to acclimate to the faster pace of the game, but Eline wasted no time.”
De Jong was also excited about how she performed on her debut saying, “I was really happy to score two goals in my first game here at Rider. I was excited to get the first goal of the season and help defeat Davidson. It was so great to see all the happy faces of the team when I scored the first goal. I’m very glad I could add something to the team.”
De Jong wasn’t the only one having a good day; the rest of the Broncs’ offense also played well. Senior defender Melissa Cunningham, junior midfielder Jessica Randazzo and senior forward Allison Baligian all scored as well. Maria Madsen, the graduate midfielder, led the team in assists with two, setting up Cunningham and Baligian on their goals. Recently, Cunningham and Baligian were named captains along with senior forward Shannon Hughes.
Davidson’s substitute Caroline Stanley managed to squeeze one past Rider’s goalkeeper with an assist from junior defender Courtney Byler. In net for the Broncs was freshman Lena Vandam who let up only one goal and had three saves on five shots on goal. On the other hand, Davidson’s goalies each played one half. Sarah Zeszotarski started the first half, allowing two goals. Bean Rodriguez started the second half allowing three goals but was able to record four saves.
When the Broncs beat Davidson by four. Hussong said, “We are still working out the kinks and learning to play with spirit and cohesiveness. If we continue to improve each day, we feel we have the potential to do some really good things this season.”
While on their short Washington D.C. road trip, Rider was able to shut out Georgetown 3-0. The team was led by Baligian who had two of the three goals scored. Baligian scored one from six yards out and the other off a penalty shot. Randazzo scored off a deflection and was assisted by Cunningham. Even though Georgetown did not score, they matched with the Broncs for shots on goal at 10.
In just her second start, Vandam played all 70 minutes, and she stopped everything that came her way. She also won MAAC Player of the Week with her performance. She had a save percentage of .929 with a 0.52 goals against average and 13 total saves on the season so far.
Last year, Rider was able to just break .500 at 10-9 overall and 4-2 in the conference. Hussong has only ever had one losing season back in 2002.
Hussong and her team qualified for the four-team MAAC playoff each of her 16 seasons.
Last year, the Broncs lost in the semifinal game to eventual champion Monmouth.
The head coach isn’t the only Hussong that is leading this team to victory. Dan Hussong, her husband, works right alongside her.
Dan Hussong’s focus is to coach the goalkeepers and recruit new players, while Lori Hussong manages the rest of the team.
The Broncs next game is Sept. 8 against Holy Cross.
Holy Cross lies at 1-2 but is coming off a 2-0 win against Quinnipiac. After that, Rider plays Dartmouth on the road and finally come home after a five-game road trip.