By Matt Burrill
Coming into the MAAC championship the host and No. 1 seed, Rider (13-7, 5-1 MAAC), was thought to be the favorite to claim another postseason championship, but these expectations were not met, as Rider fell to fourth-seeded Robert Morris (11-8, 3-3 MAAC) in the semifinal game, 1-0.
Early in the game, Robert Morris controlled much of the momentum, scoring the game’s lone goal 28 minutes in.
“They came out hungry and aggressive,” Head Coach Lori Hussong said. “We weren’t quite ready at the beginning of the game.”
The Broncs had opportunities as the game went on. The team was able to draw 12 penalty corners and get off 18 shot attempts. In the final five minutes of the game, Rider had four shots on goal, including a shot by junior midfielder Rachel Schwab that bounced off the Robert Morris goaltender with only six seconds to spare in the game.
Hussong was disappointed that her team was not able to take advantage of these opportunities.
“Bottom line, you have to score to win games and we weren’t as aggressive in the circle as we could have and should have been,” Hussong said.
A bright spot in not only this game, but also most of this season, was the play of sophomore goalkeeper Joelle Prettyman, who had 14 saves in the game.
“Joelle played well all season long, especially down the home stretch,” Hussong said.
Although the result was not what the team had expected, as far as the season is concerned, the Broncs are satisfied.
“We had an outstanding season and are extremely proud with what we accomplished,” Hussong said.
Playing with a roster that included nine freshmen, the group did not have much experience playing together, but showed that it could contend and compete in the MAAC. The Broncs won the regular season title and numerous awards including Rookie of the Year (freshman forward Nicole Hareau), and Co-Player of the Year (senior forward Sandra Penas). Hussong was also named MAAC Coach of the Year.
The end of the 2013 season marks the completion of the careers for four Rider seniors: forwards Penas and Kristine Dougherty, back Shari Grinceri and midfielder Alicia Govannicci. This group combined for 79 goals, 213 points, 63 wins, four regular season titles and three postseason championships.
Penas, who holds the all-time points record at Rider, will always look back at her time as a Bronc with a smile.
“I couldn’t have asked for four better years,” Penas said. “I have grown as a player and person, always surrounded by great teammates and coaches. I’m very thankful for my time here.”
Govannicci feels that the team has left a lasting mark on her that she will never forget.
“Rider field hockey will always be a part of me, and I hope that the team carries on Rider’s winning tradition in years to come,” Govannicci said.
Second seeded Quinnipiac defeated Robert Morris 1-0 in the MAAC championship game.