By Brandon Scalea
Coming off a disappointing loss to cross-state rival Monmouth, the field hockey team exploded for a nine-goal performance on Oct. 20.
Rider (9-8, 3-2 MAAC) headed to New York for a meeting with Long Island University Brooklyn, a program that is competing in field hockey for the first time ever. The Broncs took advantage of their opponent’s all-freshman lineup and cruised to a dominating 9-0 win.
Junior forward Allison Baligian had one of the best performances of her career, netting three goals for her first career hat trick. She now has 27 goals in her collegiate career. Senior midfielder Kalyn O’Brien added two goals of her own. Six Broncs total would earn a spot on the scorer’s sheet.
Baligian said the team’s performance as a whole felt great.
“Getting a hat trick was a goal I’ve always wanted to accomplish at least once in my career, so reaching that was satisfying,” she said. “Putting up nine goals team-wise was awesome because there were many different people who scored and assisted.”
Just six minutes in, senior forward Carlie Spaeder opened the scoring with an unassisted shot past the Blackbirds’ goalie Shelly Drucker. The goal was her seventh on the season and gave the Broncs a 1-0 lead.
In the 27th minute, O’Brien scored her first of the game — also unassisted — off a mad scramble in front of the net. She scored again early in the second half to make it 5-0.
Just a minute and 10 seconds after O’Brien’s first goal, Baligian scored her first off an assist from freshman midfielder Daane Koch. The 3-0 lead would take the Broncs into halftime.
Two minutes into the second half, Baligian scored again; then, in the 42nd minute, she added her third of the afternoon off another assist from Koch. By that point, it was 6-0 Rider.
To make it 7-0, senior midfielder Carlota Alsina scored her third of the year just two minutes later. Junior forward Lauren Bock and freshman back Alice Otterson each added a goal late, for the impressive 9-0 final score.
Head Coach Lori Hussong said it was huge for Rider to win that way.
“We really needed a game like this,” she said. “We were happy to see Ally back in the scoring column and to see so many others contribute. We don’t have a go-to player this year, so everyone has to contribute to our efforts.”
However, the momentum off the big win was short-lived, as Rider fell 3-1 to a tough Ivy-League opponent, Cornell, on Oct. 23.
The Broncs struck first in the game, as Alsina put one home in the 22nd minute off a Spaeder penalty corner. The 1-0 lead would last into halftime.
In the second, the Big Red scored three unanswered goals on freshman goalie Emily Gilligan, including one in the final minute of regulation, to put it away.
Hussong said the loss shouldn’t hurt the Broncs.
“The score didn’t indicate how well we played,” she said. “Playing a very skilled team at this point in the season should benefit us in our future games.”
The final regular season game is Oct. 28 at home against Siena at 7 p.m. The Broncs enter that game in third place in the MAAC, needing a top-four finish to qualify for the playoffs for the 16th consecutive year.