By Jacob Tiger
The unyielding spirit of Rider field hockey was on full display in its Sept 24. matchup with Hofstra University, as the Broncs scored three late goals to conquer a 2-0 deficit, defeating the Pride by a score of 3-2 in overtime.
“It was a great team win and we’re super proud of our team. I think the beauty of our team this year is that, when we do get down, we know that there’s always a chance we can come back because they have that fighting spirit in them. They’re fighters and they fight to the end,” said Head Coach Lori Hussong after the victory.
It certainly was an inspiring win for the Broncs, with many players making key contributions to the winning effort.
Though, like any great comeback, the triumph was preceded by a period of mediocrity.
While Rider was fairly stout defensively in the first half, only allowing one goal, the Broncs struggled to get on the scoreboard.
However, Rider was getting plenty of shots off, so it was only a matter of time before it broke through Hofstra’s wall.
The Broncs’ offensive impotency carried over into the second half, in addition to giving up another goal to the Pride with five minutes left in the third quarter.
Six minutes later, down 2-0, senior forward Carly Brosious struck paydirt, giving the Broncs their first goal and igniting its offense.
A palpable confidence washed over the team, and with five minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Broncs scored again when senior forward Tess van Ommeren evened the odds with a goal.
Just before the end of regulation, sophomore goalkeeper Kaitlyn Tomas, who was benched against Drexel after giving up a flurry of early goals, came through when the team needed her most by denying a Hofstra shot that likely would have been to Rider’s detriment.
The game entered overtime and Tomas came up with yet another clutch save for the Broncs.
“[Tomas] stepped up and did a really good job in cage. She played really confidently. Despite getting the two goals scored on her, she played probably her best game of the year,” said Hussong.
Nine minutes into the overtime period, senior forward Julia Divorra intercepted a poor pass by Hofstra and swung the ball upfield to Brosious, who whipped the ball around the goalkeeper for the game-winning goal, completing a comeback that was built on both ends of the field.
Brosious continued her offensive dominance by scoring two goals for the second straight week, with her goals this week being the spark that the Broncs needed and the eventual game-winner.
“She is a definite offensive threat … she works so hard. Those goals against Drexel were second, third, fourth-effort goals. When she plays like that on the field, it’s very hard to stop her,” said Hussong.
But Brosious’ game-winning goal would not have been possible without the savvy play of Divorra, who orchestrated the Rider offense, assisting on the Broncs’ second and third scores.
“Today’s goals were beautifully set up by Julia. There’s a great connection between [Julia and Carly]. They’re very used to connecting and giving us a chance to score,” said Hussong.
Another welcome contributor to the win was junior midfielder Sierra Giuliano, who made her season debut after recovering from an undisclosed lingering injury.
“It was awesome to be on the field for that win. It’s definitely been a long time on the sidelines, so it felt really good to finally be able to help,” said Giuliano.
“Having her back is a real big bonus for us. She’s got a lot of experience, she’s a returning all-conference player, and she’s got a lot of poise in her play,” said Hussong. “She only had one day of practice to get ready for the game, but I think she did a really good job making her debut.
Now at full strength, the Broncs move to 7-2 as they begin Northeast Conference play against Merrimack on Oct. 1.