By Brandon Scalea
The field hockey team was on a three-game winning streak heading into its final non-conference game of the season and had all the momentum it could need.
However, on Oct. 2, Rider (6-5) dropped that final game to Columbia after leading 3-1 in the second half. Penalty corners made the difference in the contest, as the Lions scored off one in the 54th minute, and added another with three minutes left in regulation to tie. They then scored their third penalty corner goal of the game eight minutes into overtime to win it, 4-3.
Senior midfielder Kalyn O’Brien said the Broncs made some careless errors late in the contest that cost them the lead.
“We just made a lot of fundamental mistakes that Columbia took advantage of,” she said. “We gave up 17 defensive corners which definitely hurt us in the end.”
The early part of the game was a defensive battle. Graduate midfielder Leigh Maxwell-Smith got the Broncs on the board just 6:35 into the game for a 1-0 lead. Senior midfielder Carlota Alsina moved into the offensive zone with the ball and sent a perfect pass to the right side, to the stick of Smith, who sent a low shot past Columbia’s goalie Kendall Kuntz.
That lead stood for the rest of the half, despite Columbia (6-4) holding a 9-6 edge in shots.
Just three minutes into the second half, the Lions evened the score. Columbia’s Louisa Hollander took a turn-around shot from the right side and beat freshman goalie Grace Huff with a high shot. It was only the second goal Huff allowed at that point in her career.
Rider responded quickly. Coming off another week of recognition by the MAAC, freshman midfielder Daane Koch stayed hot offensively. She added two more goals, totaling her at eight for the season.
Her first of the game came unassisted in the 41st minute. She dribbled right through the middle of the defense and took a hard shot that beat the goalie high for a 2-1 lead. Eight minutes later, Koch added another thanks to a second assist from Alsina.
However, in the 53rd minute, the wheels started to fall off for the Broncs. Two successive penalty corners resulted in two late Columbia goals to send the game into sudden death, 7 vs. 7 overtime.
In the 78th minute of play, Maeve Doherty, the same player who tied the game with three minutes left, slid one past Huff for the game-winner.
The Broncs were ultimately outshot 17-12, and Huff made six saves.
O’Brien said the loss won’t hurt the team’s confidence moving forward; it still played well.
“We were up for most of the game against Columbia, which shows we have the ability to win,” she said. “So that doesn’t change our momentum. We just need to keep working hard to fix the little mistakes and to stay strong during the final moments of the game.”
Under Head Coach Lori Hussong, the Broncs have qualified for the four-team conference playoff in 16 consecutive years, with 12 of those teams reaching the title game. They will look to continue their conference success this week.
Rider will open MAAC play on Oct. 7 on the road against Fairfield, before returning home to face Bryant at noon on Oct. 9.