By David Nugent
The Broncs come into this weekend’s matchups red-hot. The team has won its last seven contests and looks to take control of the NEC. Rider hosts Sacred Heart (4-9) tonight at 7 p.m. and Quinnipiac (8-5) Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Broncs (9-1), who defeated Siena and Bryant this past weekend, outscored their opponents 14-0 in the two contests and posted their sixth and seventh shutouts of the year.
“Defense has always been the key to our success and this year is no exception,” Head Coach Lori Hussong said. “Our defense has worked harder and gained confidence every time out. Our goalie Rebecca Lotito has been our vocal leader and extremely instrumental in directing our back line of Natasha Tukeva, Jackie Adams and Katie Fanning.”
Rider returns home after a six-game road trip to host its first game since it took on La Salle. Hussong thinks playing a majority of the games on the road may not necessarily be a bad thing for the team.
“While playing away a good part of our season could be considered grueling, we have learned to take it in stride,” Hussong said. “It does have its benefits. The girls spend a lot of time together on the bus and in their hotel rooms having fun together. We are used to the fact that we have very few home games each year and it doesn’t faze us one way or the other.”
For the Broncs, though, this weekend is about more than wins and losses. Tonight is the alumni game and Sunday is the “Play 4 The Cure” game, an effort to help in the fight against breast cancer.
These events mean a lot to the team, as many people in the Rider community have dealt with breast cancer.
“We will be playing ‘4 The Cure’ and will be especially playing in honor of Cathy Carter Romero, our team member who at the moment is battling hard against breast cancer,” Hussong said.
Sacred Heart (4-9) travels to Rider after winning its last game against Robert Morris by a score of 1-0.
Sacred Heart’s only goal came courtesy of junior forward Leah Salindong. She has scored just three goals all season, but two have been game winners.
Sacred Heart’s offense is led by junior Kate Boyd and senior Hannah Robertson; Boyd leads the team with 12 points while Robertson has 10.
Quinnipiac (8-5) is tied with Rider for first place in the Northeast Conference. Quinnipiac has won its last two games by beating St. Francis (3-11) 4-2 and Robert Morris (6-9) 2-1 in overtime.
Quinnipiac’s offense is led by senior Kimberly Cunniff and sophomore Jess Rusin.
Junior Marlaine Schneider thinks the Broncs will have to be on the top of their game this weekend to defeat their tough opponents.
“We will have to play our hardest and not let up for one minute of the game,” Schneider said.
Hussong thinks the Broncs are capable of living up to this challenge.
“It’s going to be an exciting weekend with a lot on the line for our team,” she said. “We feel we are up to the challenge.”