By Stuart Kovacs
This weekend, the Broncs will return to Ben Cohen Field after a 3-2 loss at Quinnipiac last Sunday, marking the end of their four-game road trip. With nearly a week off from competition, Rider will attempt to improve on its already impressive season.
The Broncs (9-5, 2-1 NEC) will take on Siena (0-11, 0-3 NEC) on Friday at 4 p.m. and Bryant (5-10, 2-1 NEC) on Sunday at noon.
Siena has had a hard time finding any traction this season, going winless through the first 11 games and being outscored by opponents 45-6.
Nevertheless, Head Coach Lori Hussong isn’t going to take the game lightly.
“Despite [Siena’s] record, Friday’s game is going to be a tough game for us,” Hussong said. “They have been improving with each game and have come very close to winning, especially in the past few games.”
The wins and losses of the opposing team isn’t an issue to Hussong, who just wants to see her team ready for every game and play as hard as they can.
“We really don’t talk about records,” Hussong said. “Our main concern is getting our team prepared to spill their guts and give a complete effort.”
Senior forward Gabby Burgo shares the same sentiments about Siena. She knows that the Saints won’t lie down to Rider and will give their best effort.
“Siena is a growing program with a new coach,” Burgo said. “Their style of play is very aggressive. They have the will to win and always bring their best game when playing us.”
The team’s second opponent this weekend, Bryant, has had slightly more success this season than Siena has.
Hussong recognizes that Bryant, who has won three of its last four games, are battling for a conference playoff spot. She credits a slew of international players who have shown great improvement as the season progressed.
“Bryant plays a very physical style of play,” Hussong said. “They have several international players who have raised the level of play for their program. They, too, will be fighting hard to secure a playoff spot and will be a tough challenge on Sunday.”
Leading the Bulldogs are sophomore Rosie Bird and junior Kayleigh Ballantyne. Bird has been an impressive scorer with 10 goals on the season while Ballantyne has five goals and eight assists.
Hussong realizes what both of these athletes are capable of and plans keep the ball away from them.
“We will need to pay close attention to wherever they are on the field and try and limit their touches on the ball as much as possible,” Hussong said.
Burgo believes the best way for the Broncs to beat Bryant is by playing physical and pressuring the ball the entire time.
“Bryant is a very skilled and aggressive program,” Burgo said. “We plan on stopping them from having any success by playing our game.”
With nearly a week out of action, the Broncs look to improve on their record in preparation for the NEC tournament, which begins on Nov. 2.
Coach Hussong would love to see a great crowd on hand to cheer on her team from the stands.
“It would be awesome for our student body to come out and positively support not just our field hockey team, but all of the athletic teams and help us work toward our goal of qualifying for the playoffs,” Hussong said.