Despite starting the season with three straight losses, the women’s field hockey team has given top programs a run for their money while winning four games since their rocky start.
Head Coach Lori Hussong, who is in her ninth season at Rider, has high hopes for the rest of the season.
“We purposely scheduled games against some very high-level programs to prepare us for our conference schedule,” said Hussong. “Our team is extremely motivated to perform and give their best effort no matter what the outcome of the game is.”
Senior captain Tricia Crotty expects a strong showing from her team members this season based on their teamwork and intensity so far.
“Both the Villanova game and the Hofstra game have stood out,” said Crotty. “Even though we didn’t come out with the wins, we played very hard against these top-level teams and know that if we play that hard in our conference games, we’ll win them all.”
In their first game of the season, the Broncs fell 2-1 in overtime to Hofstra. Crotty scored the only goal for Rider off of an assist from sophomore Lindsay Rejeski. On Sept. 3, Rider lost 1-0 to Villanova, a team that is considered a consistent national power. Villanova scored off of a penalty corner with two seconds left in the game.
“It was exciting beating West Chester and Lehigh, but the Villanova game might have been the most exciting one,” said Crotty. “It came down to the end of a 1-0 game and we almost put it in to tie the game, which is exciting because Villanova is always a very good program.”
The team’s third straight loss for the season was on Sept. 7, when it fell 3-1 to Colgate.
But the losing streak ended when they beat Appalachian State 3-2 a week later. The winning continued with a 3-2 victory over West Chester — thanks to a hat trick by Crotty — and a 3-1 win against Lehigh.
“The biggest highlight of our season so far has been fighting back from an 0-3 start to get back to .500 for the season,” said Hussong. “A lot of teams would have rolled over and gotten discouraged, but our girls accepted the challenge and put in the extra effort to get us going forward again.”
Hussong is pleased with the team’s positive spirit and cohesiveness. She feels as though all the players are thinking “team first and me second,” which is always essential for success. She credits the captains with keeping the team “in check and levelheaded.”
Sharing the role of team captain with Crotty are seniors Julie Vaccarelli and Mandy Hunter, whose status is pending with an ankle injury.
“Our team elected them captains because of their strong leadership qualities,” said Hussong. “They are all great role models not only on the field but in the classroom as well.”
Crotty’s goal as captain is to lead by example on the field in an effort to keep her team’s energy high during every game.
The team’s goals for this season are to win the regular NEC season title, win the conference title and get to the NCAA Play-In game.
The Broncs start their conference schedule on Oct. 10 against Sacred Heart at home, then travel to Connecticut on Oct. 12 to face Quinnipiac.