By Christian Ashe
The field hockey team is MAAC-playoff bound for the 17th straight year after defeating Siena on Oct. 28.
This game was a must-win for both teams, as each was fighting to earn the final spot in the four-team MAAC Tournament. Siena was trying to capture its first-ever playoff berth, as Rider was trying to extend its impressive streak. Ultimately, the home team cruised to a 4-0 win.
Junior back Melissa Cunningham said the team played with intensity and rose to the occasion.
“It was a do-or-die situation, so we all did our best to make sure we won and moved on to the playoffs,” she said. “This game was very emotional and huge for us. We really wanted to win for our team as a whole, especially for our seniors on the team.”
Rider outshot Siena 30-6 as it was pressing to score all game. However, the two teams remained scoreless for the first 22 minutes until freshman midfielder Daane Koch scored to give the Broncs the lead. In the 34th minute of the game, sophomore midfielder Jessica Randazzo scored another goal to put Rider up 2-0 before halftime.
In the second half, Cunningham scored in the 49th minute and senior forward Carlota Alsina scored in the 57th minute.
O’Brien was prouduuu the team stepped up and won a very important game.
“We knew we needed this game,” she said. “This made us motivated and helped us pull together. We worked hard all week to fix our mistakes and focused on capitalizing on our opportunities. We played together as a team.”
It was Senior Night for the Broncs as they recognized their graduating seniors. Alsina and senior forward Leigh Maxwell-Smith, as well as senior midfielders Kalyn O’Brien and Carlie Spaeder were all honored before the start of the game. The international students Alsina and Maxwell-Smith both had their home country’s respective national anthem played.
With her family in town after traveling all the way from Spain, Alsina notched a goal and two assists in the contest.
O’Brien said that knowing she’s played her last regular season game at Ben Cohen Field is bittersweet.
“It’s crazy how fast time has flown,” she said. “Over the past four years, I’ve seen players come and go, and celebrate their Senior Night, which made it weird that this night was for me. It’s emotional because you realize in that moment that your time as an athlete is coming to an end.”
On Nov. 4, fourth-seeded Rider will face top-seeded Monmouth in the semifinal, with the winner moving on to the MAAC final. Fairfield and Bryant are the second and third seeds, respectively. The playoffs are being held in West Long Branch.
Additional reporting by Brandon Scalea