By Steven Eggert
It has always been a struggle for opposing teams to stop the electric play of senior forward Sandra Penas. Throughout the first five games of the season, Penas had only one goal and it seemed as if somebody finally figured out the secret to stopping the Broncs’ scoring machine.
On Sept. 20, the Broncs were able to defeat Towson (1-7) by a score of 4-0 in the team’s first home game of 2013. In that game, Penas found the back of the net twice.
One reason she may have gotten off to a slow start was the burden of leading a young team.
“I do feel like I am facing a lot of pressure,” Penas said. “Everyone else is too. We’re a very young team. We’re getting used to playing together, so I think we’re slowly making progress. We just need to come up with creative plays.”
On Sept. 22, the Broncs traveled to face Appalachian State and won 6-2. Penas once again, was the catalyst on offense, scoring three goals and adding an assist.
Penas also tied Rider’s all-time scoring record with 150 career points. She has 60 goals and 30 assists in just over three seasons at Rider.
“She generates our offense,” Head Coach Lori Hussong said. “When we need to get the ball in the circle, she can get it in there for us. Everybody knows that when she’s on the field. They need to be very aware of her. She’s oftentimes getting double-and triple-teamed.
Despite the Broncs starting off the season with a 6-1 record, Hussong believes there is still a lot to improve with this young team.
Going forward, there are a dozen games left on the schedule, and although Rider is on pace for another winning season, Hussong is still trying to find out what her team’s identity really is.
“The record we have is deceiving because we’re not playing at the level that we want to and need to be at for the playoffs,” Hussong said. “So every game is going to be about building. We’ve had past games where we didn’t give our best effort so we’re making a ton of progress.”
On Sept. 25, Rider travels to Philadelphia to take on the Drexel Dragons (5-2) at 7 p.m.
This season, Drexel has tested itself on the schedule by facing three top-10 teams in the nation. The Dragons have lost to No. 9 Duke and No. 2 Maryland, but were able to upset No. 10 Iowa 2-1 on Sept. 21.
The Broncs are aware of what challenges lie ahead.
“We put Drexel on our schedule to toughen us up,” Hussong said. “We want to make sure we can compete with them and that we are ready to compete with them at our best.”
Penas realizes that the Broncs will have to play at their very best on both sides of the field.
“Drexel is a great team and have a lot of skilled players,” Penas said. “I think we’re going to have to play a really good game in order to come out with a win.”
The Broncs will play three more road games after tonight’s game before returning home on Oct. 9 to face the University of Pennsylvania.