By Corey Donetz
The Rider field hockey team went into last weekend undefeated and atop the Northeast Conference (NEC). Unfortunately, the nationally ranked Broncs (13-1 overall, 4-0 NEC) fell to Rutgers in a non-conference game on Saturday and were knocked down from their perfect season.
Going into Rutgers on Saturday, the Broncs looked to stay undefeated by beating the Scarlet Knights. The weather conditions weren’t exactly ideal, which did not help the Broncs despite their efforts.
Right off the bat, things were looking good for the Broncs as they took an early 1-0 lead. However, not long after, the Scarlet Knights tied the game and did not look back.
After they knotted the score, Rutgers scored two more unanswered goals that would ultimately be enough for them as they went on to give the Broncs their first loss of the season.
Rutgers had only one win this season before their victory over Rider, giving the Scarlet Knights an overall record of 2-13.
Sophomore Megan Pisani scored an unassisted goal in the loss, giving her a team high 15 goals on the season. Pisani is 12th in the country in goals and she has scored points in six of her last seven games for Rider.
“We will take this loss as a challenge,” she said. “As a team, we learn the most from a loss, and this week we have to work our hardest during practice to improve our weak parts from our game. This loss will only make our team stronger because it is going to get us back on our toes, and we will bring it to the next team we play. This loss isn’t going to bring Rider field hockey down; it will only motivate us to play harder every game and be back at our highest level of play.”
Senior goalkeeper Lyndsie Johnson made four saves in the loss as Rutgers outshot the Broncs 9-8.
“Losing can be an important learning experience and it will test our team’s character,” said Head Coach Lori Hussong. “We will regroup and continue to work hard to improve. There are three weeks left in the season, and despite our setback to Rutgers, we are enjoying a great season. We are confident that we can achieve our goals.”
Earlier in the weekend, the Broncs’ game against Bryant was moved to Mercer Community College because of wet conditions. The change of scenery and unkind conditions didn’t seem to matter to the Broncs as they kept their undefeated conference and overall record intact before the loss on Saturday.
Bryant really had no chance to win the game since they only had two shots on goal. As the Broncs’ defense stepped it up, so did their offense, as Rider never let up, attacking with shot after shot.
The Broncs won 3-0 with goals scored by freshmen Austyn Swartz, Marlaine Schneider and Jackie Adams. Sophomore Virginia Egusquiza, senior Erin McGinniss and Schneider assisted the goals, respectively. Even though Rider dominated against Bryant, there is still work to be done. Not looking too far ahead, Hussong knows the team must take one game at a time.
“As always, every game is extremely competitive and we have to take one game at a time,” she said. “We have four games left in our regular season and cannot afford to make an error if we want to qualify for the tournament.”
The Broncs went into weekend play among only three remaining undefeated teams in NCAA Division I. Rider entered Saturday’s matchup with Rutgers as winners of 23 of their last 25 games dating back to last season. The Broncs and Lock Haven remain the only two undefeated teams left in conference play; they are followed in the standings by Monmouth and Quinnipiac, who are both 3-2 in the conference.
Despite the loss, Rider still managed to have a player honored by the conference. Schneider was named NEC Rookie of the Week for all games played Oct. 12 to 18. It is the fourth time she has won the award.
Still tied for first place in the NEC, the Broncs have an impressive 13-1 record and are ranked 32nd in the nation in the Average Computer Ratings (ACR) by FieldHockeyCorner.com. The team continues to have very high hopes for the remainder of the season.
The Broncs are in a good position to get back on track as they face off against Robert Morris in their next contest. The Colonials are sporting a 2-10 record with a 1-4 mark in the NEC as Rider looks to learn from its mistakes and return to its winning ways.
The Broncs take on Robert Morris today at 1 p.m. and then travel to play Saint Francis on Sunday, Oct. 25, at 1 p.m.