By Chris Masiello
The field hockey team travels tonight to take on Sacred Heart (5-6, 0-1 NEC) and then will continue the roadtrip to Quinnipiac University (8-4, 1-0 NEC) on Sunday. The Broncs (8-4, 1-0 NEC) look to improve their record by securing two more conference wins.
The two-time defending NEC champions look to remain undefeated in conference play as they face the challenging task of squaring off against two competitive teams away from home in a three-day span.
“A big challenge is having to play on two different surfaces — one being turf and the other being Astro Turf,” Head Coach Lori Hussong said. “That, along with playing the caliber of teams that we are, poses a serious threat.”
Senior Marlaine Schneider knows the Broncs will have to switch up their offense in order to be successful this weekend.
“[Sacred Heart and Quinnipiac] both play very similar games, ‘big ball,’ which we are not used to, and we need to adjust and play to their type of game,” Schneider said. “They are both going to be very hard games, but I feel that we will come out with a win as long as we play our game and nothing less.”
Schneider, who currently ranks third on the team in goals with six, second in assists with three and second in points with 15, is coming off of a two-goal performance against Robert Morris (3-9, 0-1 NEC) last game, including the game winner in overtime.
The Broncs have seen great success in the NEC since the 2008 season, which was the last time they lost a conference game. Rider has since rattled off 24 straight conference wins.
“The streak is not something we talk about often,” Hussong said. “But it is something you have to be prepared for. With a streak like that, it’s like having a red dot on your head. We may not talk about it much but our opponents know about the streak and are willing to give their best in order to end it.”
If the Broncs want to continue their winning ways, the team hopes to address one problem that almost cost them last week’s contest: the inability to defend crosses coming across the middle.
“Defending the cross is something the coaching staff has focused [on] during practice this week,” Hussong said. “We plan on implementing a new system, hoping it will strengthen our defense in that area particularly.”
Sophomore Rachel Schwab noted that the team has been putting in additional work to improve.
“We took extra time in practice to work on our corner defense in hopes that everyone would be clear of the jobs they needed to get done on the play,” Schwab said.