Rider beats Penn for 12th straight victory before season finale

With senior Virginia Egusquiza’s (left) college career ending, freshman Eefje Kok will look to take over where she left off.

By Steve Eggert

The field hockey team is coming off back-to-back wins against Pennsylvania (3-12) and Robert Morris (8-11), giving the Broncs a 16-1 record for the season and their third straight NEC regular season championship. The Broncs will have one more game against St. Francis before they begin the NEC Championships on Nov. 4., hoping to clinch their second consecutive NEC Title.

Head Coach Lori Hussong is happy with how the season has gone so far. The Broncs are the 20th-ranked team in America, according to the ACR ratings on fieldhockeycorner.com and a big reason for that has been teamwork.

“We feel the key to our success has been the great chemistry and camaraderie that exist among our players,” Hussong said. “This year’s team is made up of 21 players who have worked hard, sacrificed and dedicated themselves to making a commitment to strive and reach their goals. Each and every player accepted their roles and remained loyal and unselfish and we could not be more proud of their success both on and off the field.”

On Sunday, the Broncs head to Pennsylvania to face St. Francis (5-13). Hussong knows the importance of the Broncs’ final regular season game.

“Our game versus St. Francis will be important as we would like to finish conference play the best way possible,” she said. “St. Francis has a lot riding on this game as well because a win would give them a possible chance to get into the playoffs.”

After the St. Francis game, the Broncs will need to quickly focus on the start of the NEC tournament.

“Going into Championship weekend is always exciting,” Hussong said. “We know that everyone is looking to advance and that anything can happen if we are not ready to play. We know we have to out-work the other teams and play to our potential in order to advance and we will try and do our very best.”

Against Robert Morris (8-11), the Broncs not only won by a final score of 8-0, but they also celebrated Senior Day.

“Our Robert Morris game was one of the biggest games of the season as a lot was riding on the outcome of that game,” Hussong said.  “In winning we clinched our third consecutive NEC regular season championship, but most importantly, home field advantage for the NEC tournament.”

Hussong also showed her appreciation to the seniors, especially captain Virginia Egusquisa.

“Virginia, as well as all the seniors, have been outstanding leaders and role models for our younger plays to look up to. Virginia is the glue that keeps our team together,” Hussong said. “Her skills and her field sense are unbelievable as she helps to elevate the level of play of everyone around her.”

She also praised her defensive leader, goalie Rebecca Lotito.

“Tito has grown into an outstanding goalkeeper and our vocal leader on the field,” she said. “She communicates so well with our defense and is a big reason why we have experienced success this season.”

On Wednesday, the Broncs faced UPenn on Code Cranberry night, winning easily by a final score of 7-1. Sophomore Sandra Penas finished the game with a hat trick. Hussong was impressed with the team’s ability on the field last night.

“The game against Penn gave us the opportunity to keep our skills sharp and stay focused on our goals,” Hussong said.

Having the team’s fellow student athletes come out to support to the Broncs on this night gave the team an additional confidence boost.

“Code Cranberry made the evening an exciting atmosphere for our team, and with the exception of allowing Penn to score very early on in the game, we hustled and played hard the remainder of the evening.”

At 16-1, it is safe to say that this season has been a great one for the Broncs.  Throughout the years, Hussong has been able to coach a team that is always at the top of the standings. This team is just as special.

“This year has been one of the best years that we have been a part of,” she said. “It has been so rewarding to see our team work hard to bond together in such a positive way. They know that they can always rely on each other to get through the tough times and the relationships that have been cultivated will last a lifetime.”

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