Hawks shut out Broncs back-to-back
By Ryan Connelly
Rider’s season came to an end on Nov. 3 as it was defeated in the semifinals by Monmouth for the second year in a row.
Five players, including freshman goalkeeper Lena Vandam, were named to the All-MAAC team. Vandam was also awarded MAAC Co-Goalkeeper of the Year.
Senior forward Allison Baligian, senior defender Melissa Cunningham and Vandam all made First Team All-MAAC. Freshman defender Eline De Jong and junior midfielder Jessica Randazzo have been awarded Second Team All-MAAC.
The Broncs, for a majority of the season, had an even record. It wasn’t up until their last few games that they fell off. Rider’s last win was against Sacred Heart where it won 3-0. After, the Broncs went on a four-game losing streak, only putting up two goals in their last four games. Rider ended this season with an 8-11 record.
Head Coach Lori Hussong stated, “I do not feel the pressure of the playoffs had anything to do with our outcome this year. Scoring was the biggest hurdle to overcome this season, and despite the fact that we worked very hard all season to develop our attack, we were just not able to generate any offense, especially in the later part of the season.”
Rider struggled when it came to playing top-seeded Monmouth. They played the Hawks back-to-back and lost both times. The second time around it was a much closer game, they lost 2-0 as opposed to 5-0 the first time. However, Monmouth still dominated the field, taking 21 shots, 14 on goal, while Rider only shot three and one on goal.
All season long, one of Rider’s strong suits was its defense, starting with Vandam, who recorded nine of the 12 saves in the game against Monmouth. Vandam had a very impressive season; she led the MAAC in shutouts and save percentage. Throughout the season she also received MAAC Defensive Player of the Week three times.
Another impressive player for the Broncs was captain Baligian, she led the Broncs in goals (7) and points (18) this season. Baligian was one of five players on the team to start in every game this season.
Leading the team in assists was senior forward Shannon Hughes with seven.
Even though the Broncs are not competing on the field anymore, they are still working hard off the field. Seven players were awarded All-MAAC Academic Honors. The requirement for this award is to complete two semesters and maintain a cumulative 3.2 GPA.
The Broncs have now made the playoffs for 18 consecutive seasons, but it will be a question if they can do it again with six seniors graduating, including Baligian, Hughes and Cunningham.
Coach Hussong said, “First, I’m really thankful and appreciative for all that our seniors have given to our program both on and off the field. Lauren Boch, Kesh Henderson, graduate student Maria Madsen and our three captains Baligian, Cunningham and Hughes did a great job in leading a very young team and keeping everything positive and progressing forward. We are working very hard to recruit players who we can add to a very strong nucleus of returners so that we can make a push back to the top of the conference standings.”