By Brandon Ferris
After a six-goal performance against Colgate, the field hockey team suddenly found goals hard to come by.
Head Coach Lori Hussong feels that, although these games were the toughest of the year so far, the Broncs are making no excuses in the loss.
“When we schedule games for the season, we look to put some of our tougher opponents towards the end of non-conference play,” she said. “Going into the weekend, we knew that we would have to play our best. The weekend was a mix of some really great play and some poor defensive decisions.”
The Broncs (7-4) traveled to Pennsylvania on Oct. 2 to play against Lock Haven in a non-conference game. The Broncs lost the game after an overtime goal off a penalty stroke 1:55 into the second overtime.
Freshman midfielder Jessica Randazzo scored the only goal for the Broncs at the 40-minute mark. Sophomore forward Allison Baligian assisted Randazzo with a cross to the inside circle and Randazzo put it in far post, her second of the year.
Baligian mentioned that while early goals have been key for Rider, it just was not enough to hold off familiar rival Lock Haven (11-2, 2-2 PSAC).
“We need to continue to score early to set the tone for the game,” Baligian said. “The key is to keep working together as a unit. Unfortunately, we made some key mistakes on both offense and defense that didn’t allow us to win.”
Senior goalkeeper Joelle Prettyman allowed two goals, while recording eight saves, bringing her record to 6-2 as the Broncs’ starting goalie.
The Lady Eagles outshot the Broncs 19-7, with 10 of those shots on goal. Junior forward Rachel Valentine scored the game’s first goal at 23:23 after a deflection from a long ball. Valentine recorded her 10th goal of the season. Senior forward Stephanie Whiteman recorded her second goal of the season after she scored the game-winning goal in overtime.
The Broncs trailed Lock Haven until Randazzo’s goal at the 40th minute. The game went into two overtimes with Lock Haven outshooting Rider in both overtime periods.
Traveling from Lock Haven, Rider stopped in Philadelphia for a non-conference game against Drexel (4-6, 1-0 CAA) on Oct. 4. The Broncs battled, but the dragons defeated Rider 4-2, marking the second loss in a row.
Drexel jumped to a 2-0 lead within the first 18 minutes of the game. Megan Wiest scored the first goal for Drexel unassisted at the eight-minute mark and Jessica McCarthy scored ten minutes later off a corner from Mary Lynam.
After trailing 2-0, the Broncs’ junior forward Kalyn O’Brien scored her first goal of the season off an assist from freshman midfielder Christine van Egmond. Van Egmond, a freshman, connected with O’Brien on a long pass from outside of the circle, and O’Brien was able to score on the left side of the net.
O’Brien feels that the effort has been there for her team, they just haven’t been able to take advantage of opportunities at key moments.
“Offensively we didn’t cash in, and defensively we made a lot of fundamental errors,” she said. “We played hard both games but going forward, we need to learn from this and limit those mistakes. We have to remain positive.”
With Rider trailing by a goal, Drexel junior forward Idrienne Walker scored back-to-back goals within four minutes. Walker was assisted by senior midfielder Danielle Grassi and freshman midfielder Amy Ferguson, respectively.
Walker received passes from both women near the inside circle and was able to get the ball past Prettyman. At 55:21 of the game, junior forward Carlie Spaeder scored a goal unassisted. She shot the ball from the top of the circle and scored on Drexel goalie Ainslie Rhoads.
Prettyman received her third loss of the season as the starting goalie.
Rider gets a week off and then travels to Villanova, Pennsylvania to take on the Wildcats on Oct. 11 for its final non-conference game of the year.
After finishing as runner-ups in the conference title game last season, Rider will look to keep its identity as an elite MAAC program. Hussong feels that playing another familiar opponent before the start of conference play will leave the Broncs in good shape.
“This is our last game to iron out our play and we will spend the entire week preparing and fine-tuning our weaknesses,” Hussong said. “Hopefully, we will take the lessons learned from this past weekend and they will make us stronger in our will and determination as we head into the most important stretch of our season.”
Additional reporting by Brandon Scalea