By David Pavlak
The field hockey team is looking to finish its conference schedule on a positive note, with a game against Saint Francis (Pa.) (11-4, 5-0 NEC) on Oct. 26 at 7 p.m., followed by a 3 p.m. matinee game on Oct. 28 against Monmouth (6-11, 4-1 NEC). The NEC playoffs will begin for the Broncs on Nov. 2.
Even with the Broncs’ past two wins on Oct. 19 and Oct. 21, senior forward Jackie Adams feels that in order for the Broncs to finish strong, the team will have to be prepared in all facets of its game.
“In order to win, our team needs to come out ready to play,” Adams said. “We can’t think about the game on Sunday or even the playoffs. We just need to take it one step at a time and play our game. As long as we have confidence and believe in ourselves and the team, then there is no doubt in my mind that we won’t be successful.”
The Broncs (11-5, 4-1 NEC) will have a tall task in the form of Saint Francis (Pa.) as it hasn’t lost a game in NEC play.
“Friday’s game with Saint Francis will be challenging as they are currently undefeated in conference play and playing confidently at this time,” Hussong said. “Success on Friday will keep us in the hunt for a piece of the NEC regular season title.”
Monmouth is a team that regularly plays well against the Broncs. Rider will come in looking to play one of its best games of the season, according to Head Coach Lori Hussong.
“Monmouth is always an intense, competitive game,” Hussong said. “Their players are very skilled and come sky-high when they play our team. They have some very special players that we will definitely have to pay careful attention to and our defense has to be ready every minute of the game.”
Adams feels that if the Broncs remain focused and score early, Rider will be able to walk away with a win.
“Monmouth always plays their best game against us,” Adams said. “We have long been rivals in the conference, which I think fuels both teams to play hard. Monmouth has better skills than most teams in the conference and they always keep the pressure on us for 70 minutes. This game always comes down to who wants it more. In order for us to win, we must out-hustle Monmouth and we have to want it more. If we score early, keep our pace of the game and keep the pressure on them, we can beat Monmouth.”
Prior to the game against Monmouth, this year’s current seniors will be honored on the field.
“Our senior class has really stepped it up the last half of the season and have been great role models in helping our team to come together,” Hussong said. “Each of them have given their all to our team this year and [this] has [been] most evident in their play. Every time they step on the field they realize that their time with Rider is coming to end and they play with 100 percent effort and intensity. We have watched each of them grow not only in their sport, but most importantly, into strong confident young women who will continue to be successful in the next phase of their lives.”
Senior Sandra Penas feels that the team is hungry for success after the departure of last year’s senior players.
“We lost some key players from last year, but we also got a talented freshman class that has helped us to succeed,” Penas said. “This has been a tough season for us. We have had to play hard every single game in order to win. I think the team has gotten stronger as the season went on and that we are ready for the championship.”
The game against Saint Francis won’t be a walk in the park for the Broncs, however, as the team currently has an undefeated record in the NEC. The Broncs are tied with Monmouth for second place with a 4-1 record.
These two games will be pivotal in preparing for the playoffs, according to Adams.
“These games are our last official chance of preparing for the NEC tournament,” Adams said. “We have learned from the past that when it comes to the playoffs, regardless of seeding, any team can win. This weekend will be a great opportunity to get ready for the intensity of the tournament and play like we would next weekend.”
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