By Thomas Albano
Despite a 3-2 win over Bryant on Oct. 31, the field hockey team’s five-year regular season title streak was snapped on Nov. 2 following a 2-0 loss to Siena.
The Broncs (10-8, 3-2 MAAC) finished second in the conference to Monmouth, who will be the top seed and host of the MAAC tournament. This marks the first time since 2008 that Rider will not be the number one seed and host of its conference’s field hockey tournament. The Broncs had won eight regular season titles in the last 14 years.
Head Coach Lori Hussong connected the close battle against Bryant (4-13, 1-4 MAAC) with the competitive nature in the conference.
“This season has been really hard in the conference because everybody is so close and the games are so tight,” Hussong said. “I just feel really proud of our team because they have the comeback ability.”
The game started quietly on both ends, and by the 24th minute both teams had only one penalty corner and two shots, all of which came up empty.
Things changed 24:33 into the game when sophomore midfielder Carlota Alsina scored the game’s first goal to give the Broncs a 1-0 lead. The Bulldogs, however, answered back at the 28:21 mark with a goal by sophomore forward Elena Borovskis to tie things up. Less than three minutes later, senior forward Rosie Bird scored on a penalty stroke to give Bryant a 2-1 lead that remained going into halftime.
Once the second half started, Rider wasted no time tying up the game again with a goal by senior midfielder Laura McCormick at the 37:11 mark. The Bronc offense did not let up, as the players had five shots and two penalty corners before Alsina finally found the goal at the 48:32 mark for her second goal to give the Broncs the win.
McCormick knew the Broncs weren’t going to go down without a fight.
“When they got their first goal it didn’t scare us,” McCormick said. “We know when we’re down, we’re going to come right back. That’s what we did today. We battled through it.”
Siena (1-15, 1-4 MAAC) visited Rider on Nov. 2, looking to spoil the Broncs’ thoughts of a regular season title.
The first half saw Rider with the only penalty corner, and the Broncs outshot the Saints 7-0, but Siena’s goalkeeper, junior Mary Drabich, recorded three of her total eight saves that half. The half ended scoreless.
Despite finishing the game with 10 total penalty corners and leading the game in shots 18-4, the Broncs gave up two goals in the second half.
Not only did the Saints defeat the Broncs for the first time since 2001, but it was also its first win both in conference play and overall this season.
Hussong was less than satisfied with how Rider played against Siena.
“We didn’t show up today,” Hussong said. “We were off all day. Our passing was off and we had no offensive punch in the circle.”
Rider will now travel to West Long Branch, N.J., to compete in the four-team tournament. The Broncs will face off against Quinnipiac (8-10, 3-2 MAAC) on Nov. 7, and, if successful, they will move on to the MAAC Championship game on Nov. 9.
Hussong said that she was happy nonetheless the team made the postseason yet again, but promised the performance of the team against Siena would not happen again.
“At the beginning of the year we didn’t know whether we would be able to make it,” Hussong said. “But these guys have fought hard every game. But we’re really disappointed in what happened today.”