by Kristie Kahl
Rider’s field hockey team held onto its second-place position in the Northeast Conference after losing to first-place Lock Haven before coming back to conquer St. Francis of PA.
The Broncs (7-8 overall, 4-1 NEC) fell to Lock Haven(10-5 overall, 5-0 NEC) 4-1 in their first conference loss of the season last Friday.
“It was a tough loss,” said senior goalie Jen LoCastro. “The score didn’t show what happened in the game. We outplayed them, but we had trouble scoring.”
The Bald Eagles led 2-0 going into the half, but senior Stephanie Walker put Rider on the board 12 minutes in. Lock Haven was able to shake off the Walker goal and maintain its lead, scoring two goals back-to-back to put the game out of reach.
“We always hope to learn from each loss,” Head Coach Lori Hussong said. “We need to play with intensity and hustle for 70 minutes. Bottom line is, we only get a few chances to score each game and everyone needs to be ready when the opportunity presents itself.”
LoCastro made eight saves for the Broncs as the Bald Eagles outshot Rider 16-11 despite the Broncs having a 17-11 corner advantage in the game.
“Losing to Lock Haven cost us a chance to host the conference championship,” said Hussong. “Although the final outcome was a 4-1 loss, the score was not indicative of the way we played the game. We had numerous scoring opportunities off our offensive corners that we were not able to capitalize on.”
The Broncs bounced back on Sunday while recognizing the team’s seniors and shutting out St. Francis of PA in another conference game, helping the team maintain its goal of reaching the playoffs.
“Beating St. Francis was a must win for us in order to keep our playoff hopes alive,” Hussong said. “Our team responded in such a positive way and we’re pleased with their effort, especially on senior day.”
Walker scored the only goal for the Broncs again, her team-leading sixth goal of the season and 35th of her career as she moved to sixth on the all-time scoring list. LoCastro added four saves in the win as she picked up her second shutout of the season.
“We definitely put up a fight against St. Francis,” said LoCastro. “I felt we deserved to win. Everyone was back, everyone helped. It was a great team effort.”
The Broncs outshot St. Francis 12-6 as the team was able to get its record back to .500 for the season.
“We generated enough scoring opportunities both games ,and the next hurdle is to try and generate some goal production,” said Hussong. “Offense is starting to become more tenacious and with the return of several players who have been hampered with injuries, we are improving.”
The win was Hussong’s 100th in her eight years at Rider.
“It’s a team accomplishment shared by all our current and past players, as well as all of the assistant coaches who have been with the program the past eight years, especially my husband, Dan,” Hussong said. “This may sound a little biased but we both truly feel lucky to have the opportunity to work with who we feel are Rider’s finest student athletes. We appreciate all of their efforts.”
With a roster containing more freshmen then it does returning starters, the Broncs are pushing to work harder for their goals each day.
“We knew this year would be a rebuilding year with only four starters back from last year’s team,” said Hussong. “Our philosophy has always been the same: give your best effort and things will take care of itself. If everyone continues to push themselves a little harder to strive for excellence, we will turn things around.”
Rider fell to Lafayette (6-9) 1-0 on Wednesday in a non-conference game.
The game remained scoreless at the half, but the Leopards put one on the board off of a penalty corner with 23 minutes left in regulation.
“It’s not that we aren’t scoring,” Hussong told Rider Sports Information. “It’s that we aren’t making improvements. We need them to do what we tell them to do each time out instead of doing it one time after being told. We are going back to our same old ways and it’s frustrating. Potentially we have the ability to be excellent. It is a matter of getting the players to believe in the program and believe in our philosphy. We waited for misses, we didn’t move the ball. We just got out-hustled tonight.”
LoCastro had five saves for the Broncs as Lafayette outshot Rider 10-3.
“It’s the story of our season,” Hussong told Rider Sports Information. “We didn’t play well together. We played like individuals and when we do that we are very ineffective.”
Rider will continue its fight for the postseason when the Broncs travel to Monmouth for another NEC game today at 4 p.m.