Broncs fall two years in a row at big showdown

Freshman Virginia Eguzquiza scored to help Rider advance to the final round of the Northeast Coference Championships, where they lost 3-0.By Lauren Clay

The field hockey team’s season came to an end when it was defeated in the title game of the Northeast Conference (NEC) tournament for the second year in a row.

Head Coach Lori Hussong would have liked to see the team win the NEC tournament, but is happy with its success this season.

“We are really proud of our team and all that they accomplished,” Hussong said. “Although it was disappointing to lose in the NEC Finals, we had a great season overall.”

The Broncs faced Lock Haven, the only conference team to beat the Broncs this season. Knowing that the continuation of their season was on the line, the players did everything they could to prepare for the title game.

Despite playing their hardest, Rider was unable to pull out the win and lost 3-0.

“We had our moments when we played fairly well,” Hussong said. “Despite allowing three goals, we in fact played quite well.”

Lock Haven didn’t waste any time, scoring the first goal 10 minutes into the game. The Eagles then increased their lead when they scored their second goal 11 minutes before the half. With 15 minutes remaining in the game, they scored again for the final goal of the game.

“We knew it was going to take a near perfect game from everyone on the team to win,” Hussong said. “Lock Haven was just too much to handle. They were able to capitalize and score on their corners.”

Rider took five shots throughout the game, three of which were taken by Egusquiza, who was named NEC Rookie of the Year, as well as getting first team All-NEC and All-Tournament Team honors. Also named to the All-Tournament Team were Johnson and sophomore Margaret Ecke. In addition, Ecke was placed on the second team All-NEC, along with Crotty, senior Diana Celebre and sophomore Kristy Kelly.

On Nov. 7, the second-seeded Broncs defeated No. 3 seed Sacred Heart 2-0 in the semifinals.

“We were glad to win that game and get back to the championship game on Saturday,” Hussong said. “Our team did what [it] needed to do to secure that win and advance.”

The teams were scoreless until senior Tricia Crotty scored off a pass from sophomore Amanda Barretta. Six minutes later, freshman Virginia Egusquiza scored on a penalty stroke. Junior goalkeeper Lyndsie Johnson made two saves and recorded her sixth shutout this season. Johnson is ranked third in the nation in save percentage and 10th in the nation in goals against average with a 1.02.

For the six seniors on the team — Crotty, Celebre, Sarah Richards, Mandy Hunter, Caitlin Mebs and Julie Vaccarelli — it is not easy to think that their college field hockey careers are over, but they have had an impressive season to look back on.

“After looking back over my four years, I feel like I, as well as the team, accomplished so much more than I could’ve imagined,” Celebre said. “I am very proud to be a Rider field hockey player.”

The Broncs finished this season with an overall record of 13-7 and a conference record of 7-2, including playoff games. Hussong has high hopes for next fall.

“We have a strong nucleus of players returning,” she said. “We will be working to bring in another strong recruiting class.”

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