By Dylan Manfre
The field hockey team traveled a total of 1,633 miles during its five-game road trip. Its next journey, however, won’t accrue any mileage.
Rider announced on Sept. 6, its transfer to the Northeast Conference (NEC) – the Broncs’ former host conference of 15 seasons.
“We’ve always been combined with NEC schools for our conference whether it be NEC or MAAC and, with Quinnipiac leaving and Siena dropping their program, the NEC actually had more teams involved in their conference than the MAAC did,” Head Coach Lori Hussong said. “We’re just happy we have a conference to go to as opposed to playing independently.”
Rider compiled a 112-34 record, including postseason, during its tenure in the NEC.
The Broncs won the regular season title seven times and the tournament championship six times, most recently in 2012, their final year in the conference.
Rider came out of its first three games with a 1-2 record. They defeated Davidson in a 5-0 win, and lost against Drexel and Appalachian State.
“There were a lot of positives that came out of last weekend’s games [vs. Davidson and Appalachian State],” Hussong said. “We were able to generate some scoring punch and we made improvements in our effort level. This weekend we need to combine that with better team defense from our midfield, back line and goalkeeper. If we can limit the number of times the other teams get into our offensive circle and the number of corners we give up, we will be okay. Everyone needs to be ready to play and be focused to give us the best chance to succeed.”
The Broncs split the latter two games of their five-game road trip. Cornell earned its first win of 2018, defeating the Broncs 3-1, with each of their goals coming from a different player. Rider proceeded to shutout Towson 2-0 on Sept. 12.
Despite putting one ball in the opposing cage against Cornell, the Broncs had the upper hand in shots with nine and in corners with eight. Sophomore goalkeeper Lena Vandam, who was a 2018 All-MAAC preseason honoree, recorded four saves in the losing effort.
Junior midfielder Tess Coorens scored the lone goal for Rider 54 minutes into the game on Sept. 9. The 5-foot-5 Netherlands native has contributed a goal in each of Rider’s first four games and led the conference heading into their game vs Towson.
Sophomore midfielder Marion Waterkeyn put the first ball past Towson’s goalkeeper scoring her third goal of the season. Senior captain Jessica Randazzo assisted the goal.
Freshman midfielder Kat Conroy joined the action scoring her first collegiate goal in the 45th minute.
“It was really fun, but I wouldn’t be able to do it without my teammates,” Conroy said. “It made me really excited and [now I] know I can do anything if my teammates have my back.”
Vandam, 2018 All-MAAC preseason goalkeeper, posted her seventh career shutout stopping all four Towson shots.
Rider returned to Ben Cohen Field playing host to the St. Francis Red Flash after going 2-3 on its road trip. History was on the Broncs’ side as they shutout Saint Francis 3-0 on Sept. 16.
Freshmen Carly Brosious and Julia Divorra each put a ball past St. Francis goalkeeper Elizabeth Dyer in the first half. Sophomore midfielder Marion Waterkeyn assisted both goals.
Heading into the 15-minute half time, Rider outshot the Red Flash 9-4, had no fouls and took six penalty corners.
Coorens boosted the high-octane offense, scoring her team-leading fifth goal. Vandam produced her third shutout of the year and recorded a season high six saves. Being the defensive leader, the 2017 MAAC Co-Goalkeeper of the year knows the attitude she brings into the cage and her teammates bring to the pitch each game is paramount to success.
“It’s the whole team,” Vandam said. “If everyone has a great attitude and if everyone brings their skills that we know we have to the field, we’re fine.”
Hussong commended her freshmen group for their play during the game and touched on the immense impact they’ve had on the program.
“I think they’re getting better and better with each game,” Hussong said. “The college game is very different from a high school-level game because the speed of the game is much faster and much more physical and much more intense. I think the more they play and get acclimated to that type of play, they’ll get better and better each game.”
Rider travels north for a non-conference meeting vs. Hofstra on Sept. 21. Its next home matches are against powerhouse programs, Villanova and conference rival Monmouth. The games are set for Sept. 23 and Sept. 28 at 12 p.m. and 7 p.m.
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