Rider wins weekend games to clinch playoff berth – The Rider News

By Logan VanDine

In two close and contested games, the Rider field hockey team continued their winning streak by knocking out their two weekend opponents; Long Island University (LIU) and Wagner tied for first in the Northeastern Conference (NEC) and clinched a playoff berth.

Six straight for the Broncs

In a gritty performance, field hockey team Rider traveled to New York to take on LIU, looking to pick up a six-game winning streak. The Broncs scored when it mattered and prevented the Sharks from tying or taking the lead, beating them 3-2 on October 21, improving to 10-5 and 4-1 in NEC play.

The game went scoreless midway through the first quarter until freshman forward Semra Said opened the scoring for the game, giving the Broncs an early lead.

The score was tied at 1-0 until late in the third quarter when rookie Valeria Perales scored 2-0, with things looking good for the Broncs.

After the Sharks responded early in the fourth quarter with their first goal of the game, making it 2-1, the Broncs responded. This time it was senior midfielder Sierra Giuliano who made a fine shot, giving the Broncs a 3-1 two-point advantage.

“I always try to give my best every time I’m on the pitch, but I knew today was particularly important, so I gave it my all. I was able to play a few games, but it’s never without the help of my teammates. In training all week, I worked on my reverse shot, so I’m glad it paid off to score the winning goal. Lyrical [Scott] set me up perfectly with his pass,” Giuliano said.

The Sharks scored another goal pulling them within one of Rider at 3-2 in the final minutes, but the Broncs missed the rest of the time and earned their sixth straight win.

“Our team played hard today and played well enough to win today. LIU are a dangerous team because they can move the ball very quickly in the field and score. We were happy that our team withstood the pressure and played big in the toughest times. Val [Perales]India [Zoontjens]sera [Said]Sierra [Giuliano]Abbie [Hartwell]lyrical [Scott] and Maeva [Riehman] played exceptionally,” said head coach Lori Hussong.

A win on Senior Day

A lot of good things happened on that senior day for the Broncs. Not only did they defeat Wagner, earn a playoff berth and move into a tie for first place with the Seahawks, but they also beat Wagner on October 23 to take them to their seventh straight win with a 2-0 win.

“So proud of our team’s performance today. It was determination and desire that helped us win the game. Everyone rose to the challenge, stuck to the game plan and took advantage of our scoring opportunities. Wagner’s defense was exceptional and difficult to break through. It took a huge effort to generate any type of attack,” Hussong said.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Broncs kicked things off late in the second quarter thanks to a goal from freshman midfielder Indy Zoontjens.

After another scoreless quarter, this time in the third, the Broncs wanted to create some breathing room and accomplished it at the end of the fourth quarter. Zoontjens provided the Broncs with some insurance by firing a shot into the cage, making it 2-0 and essentially putting the game out of reach.

Although it was freshman Zoontjens providing the Broncs offense, Hussong credited his senior leadership for his team and how it was a total team effort.

“Senior leadership has been key, especially in games like this, and our seniors have stepped up and played in the critical moments of the game. We had great games not only from Maeve and Kaitlyn [Tomas]but also of Kiki [Van Ommeren]Amanda [Zambrana], and Sierra and midfield. Everyone contributed to this win, and everyone came in big when we needed them,” Hussong said.

Zoontjens also mentioned that she wanted to make sure it would be a great day for her team, especially for her senior teammates.

“It’s senior day, so we just wanted a great day. What a great win. And if we don’t win this game, we might also miss out on the playoffs. So that was very important, not even just for our elders,” Zoontjens said.

With the Broncs now 11-5 and the tournament coming up very soon, Hussong knows what awaits them as they wrap up their regular season and prepare for the playoffs.

“We just have to keep playing hockey as a team and give our best. Good things will come our way if we can keep doing this,” she said.

Rider will close out his regular season with a game at home against Merrimack on October 28 and on the road against Hofstra on October 30.

Earnest L. Veasey