Rider stays undefeated in conference after two straight shutouts at home

Senior Sarah Richards clears the ball upfield. The Broncs are now undefeated and tied for first in the conference.By Lauren Clay

Over the weekend, the field hockey team shut out two conference opponents, giving the Broncs seven straight wins and a record of 10-5 while going undefeated with four wins in the Northeast Conference (NEC). The team now finds itself tied for first place with rival Lock Haven.

Senior captain Julie Vaccarelli was happy with her team’s cohesiveness and hard work against Saint Francis and Robert Morris.

“The Saint Francis and Robert Morris games were great Rider wins,” said Vaccarelli. “We worked together and were able to come out on top against two conference opponents. Both of these teams had great skill and we did not go into the games thinking they would be easy wins, but we worked hard to come out on top.”

The victories added to the team’s impressive winning streak and gave the Broncs three straight shutouts.

Head Coach Lori Hussong attributes the strong defense and junior goalkeeper Lyndsie Johnson for the team’s three straight shutouts.

“The seven-game winning streak feels great because it shows we are playing better and better as the season goes along,” Hussong said. “That is every team’s goal, to be playing your best at the end of each season. We feel fortunate that has been our trend.”

Rider’s 5-0 win over Saint Francis on Oct. 17 indicates how well the team works together.

“Our home win over Saint Francis showed that our offense is coming around,” Hussong said. “We received either a goal or an assist from every offensive starter and that is rare. We have a balanced attack and that is hard for opponents to stop.”

Freshman Virginia Egusquiza, who comes to Rider from Getxo, Spain, scored an unassisted goal 1:37 into the game.

Senior Diana Celebre recorded her first career hat trick and sophomore Amanda Barretta scored a goal off an assist from Egusquiza.

Egusquiza’s impressive performance earned her the title of NEC Rookie of the Week for the third consecutive week.

“Virginia sets up so many plays for us, she is really an amazing player,” Hussong said. “All of our offensive players are unselfish.”

Egusquiza was not the only Bronc that was honored — Celebre was named NEC Player of the Week, allowing Rider to sweep the awards for the second time this season.

The 3-0 win over Robert Morris on Oct. 19 marked the last weekend home game for the seniors — Sarah Richards, Tricia Crotty, Mandy Hunter, Caitlin Mebs, Celebre and Vaccarelli — who, except for the injured Hunter, were a huge contribution to the team’s success. Hussong is pleased with the seniors’ performance this season, as well as their loyalty and dedication.

“They are having a great finish to their careers and our younger players will benefit a great deal by having played with them,” Hussong said. “These six seniors have experienced a championship and have led us to a four-year record of 47 wins and 27 losses, but we are not done yet.”

Vaccarelli, who has kept the defense strong this season, has mixed feelings about being a senior.

“Being a senior is really awesome, but a bit scary sometimes,” said Vaccarelli. “I am going to miss this program and all of the girls more than I can imagine, but these four years have been such an amazing experience.”

Twelve minutes into the game, Celebre scored off a Crotty assist. Fifteen minutes later, Barretta scored off of a rebound from a Celebre shot, giving the Broncs a 2-0 lead going into the second half. With 13 minutes left in the game, Egusquiza scored off of a penalty stroke.

Today, the team will travel to New York to face Siena, then to Pennsylvania to play conference rival Lock Haven on Oct. 26.

“This weekend will be another tough weekend of conference play,” said Vaccarelli. “We start with Siena on Friday, which will be tough, but Lock Haven is usually our strongest opponent. We have lost to [Lock Haven] the past two years in the conference tournament. We will be ready on Sunday, and as long as we play together, we have the chance to bring home two more victories.”

Rider’s next home game, and last game of the regular season, is against Monmouth on Oct. 31.

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