By Kim Leder
The Rider field hockey team (9-1) prepares for a back-to-back travel battle this weekend as it plays at Siena (0-11) tonight and Bryant (6-5) on Sunday.
“It’s important for our team to play at the highest level possible as we know that there is no room for error if we want to qualify for the NEC playoffs,” Head Coach Lori Hussong said. “Both Siena and Bryant [are] tough opponents to match up against.”
The team recorded its ninth win Sunday when it ventured to Lehigh (2-10) for a non-conference victory, 6-1. Senior Virginia Egusquiza had a career-high three goals to go along with two assists. Sophomore Sandra Penas added two goals and one assist.
Also making an impact on the game was senior Megan Pisani, who scored her seventh goal of the season before halftime. The offense was in such control that senior goalie Rebecca Lotito didn’t have to make any saves. Rider outshot Lehigh 45-1.
“The game against Lehigh was a fun one, not just because we scored a lot, but because we had, for most part, control of the game,” said Egusquiza. “We did a lot of good things and we played as a team.”
Hussong is happy with her group’s play thus far.
“Virginia Egusquiza is finally at full strength and is playing incredibly well,” Hussong said. “Her technical skills and her ability to see the field makes her a hard person to defend against. Others who have been playing well the first half of the season are Meg Pisani, Natasha Tukeva, Rebecca Lotito, Jackie Adams, Ellie Labar, Alicia Govannicci and Sandra Penas. Freshman Katie Fanning is also a key contributor on defense.”
Many Broncs are ranked atop the conference in offensive categories. Penas and Egusquiza are tied for third in the NEC in goals scored with 10 each while Pisani is tied for fifth with seven scores. Junior Marlaine Schneider ranks number-one in the league in assists with nine helpers thus far.
As they travel, first to Siena, the Broncs get to enjoy the ride. Rider likes its chances heading to Siena as the Saints enter with an 11-game losing skid. Freshman Katherine Bowie scored her first goal in Siena’s recent loss to Lehigh.
Junior Kelly Johansmeyer led the team versus Saint Joseph’s with four of their nine shots, and two were made by sophomore Michaela Sullivan.
“I just know that [Siena and Bryant] aren’t the best ones in the NEC and that we can beat them if we play our way,” said Egusquiza. “Of course, nothing comes easy and these two teams are definitely going to be ready to play.”
When the Broncs arrive at Bryant, though, they will need to be prepared. With a 6-5 record, Bryant opened up against Holy Cross on Tuesday with a goal by sophomore Mallory Hancock in the first 10 minutes of the game. Senior goalie Jennifer Gulloti earned her first shutout of the season against Holy Cross and freshman Rosie Bird was threatening on multiple occasions.
“I really hope we play the ‘Rider way’,” Egusquiza said. “Hustling all over the field and doing good passes and being really offensive.”