By Carlos Toro
As in many family reunions, a daughter was triumphant and her mother disappointed when the Broncs moved to 6-2.
The Broncs’ first of four games was against Hofstra on Sept. 11, featuring a rivalry between Rider head coach Lori Hussong and Hofstra junior midfielder Colby Hussong, her daughter. The elder Hussong shared her thoughts on being dealt a loss at the hands of her own child.
“It’s always been a fun day for us,” Hussong said. “To tell you the truth, I didn’t get a chance to critique her play while she did it during the game. I just know that her team is exceptionally skilled and has a great passing game. It was a good day for us. We still hate losing but overall it was a fun day for our family.”
As for the game itself, Hofstra (5-1) dominated most of the game, out-shooting the Broncs 25-9 and holding a 10-6 penalty corner advantage. After neither team scored a goal in the first half, Hofstra got on board first after Hofstra senior midfielder Charlotte Loehr grabbed a rebound off a shot from sophomore defenseman Simca Schoen and Loehr scored from the left side at 47:36.
Hofstra scored again a little more than a minute later when The Pride’s junior defenseman Stella Schoen beat Rider’s senior goalkeeper Joelle Prettyman to the goal, doubling the Hofstra lead to 2-0.
Rider (6-2) did score when senior midfielder Rachel Ippolite got the goal off of an assist from junior midfielder Carlota Alsina, but it was a little too late as the goal was in the final minute and Rider lost its first game of the season.
Thankfully for the Broncs, the daunting road trip would end there, and they were able to get back on track at home against La Salle, winning 3-2 on Sept. 13.
Rider began the game with three goals, the first from junior forward Kalyn O’Brien 11:27 into the game. Junior forward Carlie Spaeder, who had a team-high six shots, scored about seven minutes later. The third goal came in the second half when sophomore forward Alison Baligian scored a little over eight minutes into the second half.
La Salle (2-5) made a push towards the end, scoring goals in the 51st minute and in the final minute of the game, but it was not enough as Rider got the victory in its first home game since the season opener against Lehigh.
Despite the 2-0 lead at halftime, the team knew that it could not rest easy, especially against a tough Atlantic 10 program like La Salle. Hussong made it a strong point to her players that they needed to keep competing hard, according to O’Brien.
“We had a really strong first half and coach came up and told us about last year’s game where we were winning and they came back to beat us in overtime,” O’Brien said. “We didn’t have the best second half. They did come back late in the game, but we were able to still pull away with the win.”
On Sept. 18, Rider played Towson (1-7) in the second of two straight home games. The Broncs got off to a slow start, trailing 2-1 after Towson scored two goals about 20 minutes into the game. Despite trailing by halftime, Rider responded quickly when Ippolite scored less than two minutes into the second half, thanks to an assist from Alsina, the first of three straight assists for Rider.
The tie was broken up by redshirt sophomore back Melissa Cunningham when she scored the game’s last two goals to give the Broncs the 4-2 victory. The team’s phenomenal 6-1 start at that point was credited to the team’s young players having great chemistry with the team’s veteran players, according to Hussong.
“I knew that going into the preseason, we were going to be very young and didn’t know how we were going to get off to a start as good as we have right now,” Hussong said. “We have a lot of young kids that mesh well with our returning players.”
Rider then traveled to St. Francis (4-3) and started trailing almost immediately as the Red Flash scored just 37 seconds into the game. This would be the first time this season the Broncs would be shut-out, as St. Francis dominated their end of the turf and kept the ball out of the net.
St.Francis’ two other goals came from Carly Gromel and Brianna Govia in the 29th and 54th minute respectively to give the Red Flash the 3-0 victory.
The Broncs continue their non-conference road trip against Colgate on Sept. 27. It will be the second of five straight road games that will run through mid-October before Rider begins conference play against Fairfield. O’Brien has said that the start was important and that they need to keep the ball rolling.
“We knew that there were a lot of freshmen coming in this year, but every player has worked real hard to make an impact and make the team better,” she said.