By Dylan Manfre
Rider field hockey faced a more experienced copy of itself in its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2012.
UConn, like Rider, had won many of its games via shutout in the season and had a large disparity between goals scored and goals allowed. For the no. 7 team in the country, it was a 53-6 disparity. For Rider, 23-2. Essentially, it was a taste of Rider’s own medicine — and not the good kind.
The Huskies, who were the 2012 field hockey national champions, spent much of the first 20 minutes on Rider’s side of the ball producing two goals in a five-minute span en route to their 5-0 win over the Broncs at Penn State University on April 30.
The UConn offense was too dominant for Rider to handle.
“We gave up a lot of [penalty] corners to them,” Head Coach Lori Hussong said in her postgame Zoom. “They’re very lethal on their corners so any time you have an opportunity to score and get a corner they’re going to put the ball in the back of the net.”
UConn’s Clair van den Noort tipped the first ball in passed Rider sophomore goalkeeper Kaitlyn Tomas, who finished with six saves in the loss. van den Noort finished the game with a hat trick scoring goals in the second and fourth quarters. Sophie Hamilton was responsible for the other two.
Rider was limited to one shot the entire first half, as it spent most of its time playing defense. Freshman forward Josefina Golppi took the shot, but it went wide left.
When the Broncs were able to draw a penalty corner, junior midfielder Tess van Ommeren was inserted into the central striker position as she was during the Northeast Conference (NEC) Championship game.
van Ommeren’s attempt went wide left and it was probably the best opportunity of the day for Rider to score as UConn would add another goal to its tally.
UConn head coach Paul Caddy spoke about how his team was able to break down Rider’s offense.
“We’ve got a very experienced backfield and midfield and they really possessed the ball well today,” Caddy said. “In the second quarter … they were able to cause us a few problems, so respect to them for making it difficult for us.”
The game was played on a water-based turf which is different from the Astro field turf at Ben Cohen Field which allows the ball to glide faster along the surface and Hussong said the game is “totally different” when played on water-based turf than Astro field turf.
“It’s a little more difficult since we play on a field turf but overall I was happy with our performance … for the most part we hung in there pretty well,” Hussong said.
The Broncs ended their campaign 6-2 and return all but four members of their team for the upcoming fall.