By Dylan Manfre
A physical back-and-forth game featured the resiliency of the field hockey team on a cold evening at Ben Cohen Field on Nov. 1.
The Broncs pressured Sacred Heart’s junior goalkeeper Hailey Power throughout the game and made her work for each of her 20 saves, 10 of which came in the first half.
Rider ended up breaking down the Pioneers’ defensive stronghold en route to a 3-0 victory and the team’s second shutout of the season.
“It was the second effort that got the goals never the first try,” Head Coach Lori Hussong said. “I think they loved every moment of it. I think more than anything they wanted to finish our regular season on a high [note] and go into our playoff run feeling good about ourselves. I think we played one of our best games of hockey today.”
Power, who is ranked No. 3 in the nation in saves per game at 8.88 and ranked No. 9 in save percentage at .776, faced a total of 26 shots from the Rider offense.
Late in the second period, Broncs junior defender Kaitlyn Flemming and Pioneers’ midfielder Kayla Kruk each received yellow cards and were out for five minutes. Flemming said the call was over the game just being physical and the officials wanted to “keep the game under control.” She avenged the call and got Rider on the board first.
Two shots, a save and a goal!— Dylan Manfre (@Dylan_Manfre11) November 2, 2019
Flemming avenges her unwarranted yellow card and scores a goal putting Rider up 1-0.
“At halftime, the only thing [Hussong] said to us was to get the rebounds,” Flemming said. “Once we got that rebound and shot it to the corner, we knew we were going to keep getting at [Power] and knew we were going to get a goal.”
Junior defender Brittany Romanczuk converted her second-career stroke attempt in the fourth quarter, followed up with a goal from sophomore midfielder and Northeast Conference (NEC) goals leader Julia Divorra, who has scored in 15 of Rider’s 17 games.
As far as the Broncs’ corner execution was concerned, they certainly had plenty of opportunities to work on it as they took a season-high 15 corners compared to none from Sacred Heart.
Every time they took a corner, sophomore midfielder Tess van Ommeren ushered the ball in play.
“I thought we did very well,” van Ommeren said. “We had some good ones on this field and we had a lot of corners. I think we did a good job but we can still do better and improve on it. Everyone played with heart and we [won] as a team.”
With one regular-season game remaining before the NEC postseason tournament begins on Nov. 8 at Wagner College, Hussong said the team needs to capitalize on some things before it heads into the playoffs.
“We have [a record of] 12-5 which is really a respectable season for us,” Hussong said. “Just figure out a way to score easier and play tough defense. We’ve had two shutouts in a row which is really good for us. Our defense is hanging tough and they’re really performing well and not allowing a lot of corners.”
The victory secured the No. 2 seed for the Broncs who will face No. 3 seed Long Island University in the opening round of the playoffs.
Rider has its regular-season finale on Nov. 3 against Lock Haven on ESPN+.
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