By Josh Veltrie
There is no place like home, unless your home sustains water damage and has to move to the Student Recreation Center (SRC). This would be the case for Rider’s volleyball team, as it has struggled this year, compiling a 3-14 record overall and 1-5 in the MAAC. The Broncs are 2-2 at home this season, winning only one match within the friendly confines of Alumni Gym while going 1-2 on the sport court located in the SRC.
The whole point of having home field advantage is being comfortable with your surroundings. This has been true for the women’s soccer team, as it has dominated at home this season. Three out of four wins have been at home as the Broncs have out-scored their opponents 5-1 in those three games.
Unfortunately for the volleyball team, it has spent a majority of its time practicing before the season, as well as the beginning of the season, in Alumni Gym. So when the team was forced to move its matches to the SRC, the sport court became more of a neutral site. Even though Rider still hosts the match, the surroundings are not what they have been accustomed to playing in.
Although the field hockey team hasn’t lost a game yet, the Broncs show that good teams must dominate at home. They are 3-0 on their own turf this season, including a thrilling overtime victory against LaSalle. The Broncs have only allowed three goals in those games while scoring 12 goals of their own.
Opposing teams are supposed to dread going on the road in any sport. In the MLB this season, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox had the best home records in baseball, and both of them are trying to extend their seasons in the playoffs.
The same pattern follows in pretty much every major team sport. In the NFL, the Carolina Panthers, New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons had some of the best home records in the league, and all three teams made it to the postseason last year.
The NBA and NHL are no different, as the top home teams in both leagues, the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers in basketball, and the Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks in hockey, were competing in the playoffs of their respective leagues.
Successful teams at Rider played well at home last year. The baseball team went 12-5 at home while the men’s basketball team won 11 out of 15 home games last season. Both teams made the postseason. The swimming and diving team won the only event hosted at Rider last season as the women’s team went on to win the MAAC Championship while the men placed second.
A key component to home field advantage is the fan base. A loud, fired up crowd naturally gives the home team an adrenaline boost that the players feed off of. It can also cause lapses of concentration with the opposing teams. It is very hard to have a good fan base for a struggling team though, as no one cheers when their team is losing.
Good teams have to deal with adversity and overcome that hardship if they want to be competitive. Although having to change the place it calls home probably came as a bit of a shock to the volleyball team, the Broncs still have a lot of season left. Rider can still turn it around as there is still a large chunk of the conference schedule left to play.
Hopefully, the replacement of the floor will go as scheduled so the basketball teams won’t be forced to move their games too. As much as the teams say it won’t affect them and that every team faces obstacles, not every team has to deal with its gym floor being renovated when it is supposed to be competing on it.