2014 Rider University Field Hockey Outlook
One for the thumb and then some.
With 12 letterwinners returning, including six starters, the Rider University field hockey team looks to win its sixth straight conference regular season title and advanced to the four-team playoffs for the 15th straight season under head coach Lori Hussong and husband Dan who have amassed 197 victories entering the season.
“We are going to be very young on the field,” Lori Hussong said. “There are moments where we will have six to eight freshmen and sophomores on the field so we are going to have to build off the fundamentals of what we do well and gain confidence as the season goes on.”
“Our seniors have done a really good job leading the team, both on and off the field,” Lori Hussong said. “Dez is an outstanding field leader along with Stacey. And Laura, due to injury, she has embraced more of a roll in leading the squad off the field, doing the little extras that need to be done.”
A preseason All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference selection, the 57-game veteran Fillmyer started all 20 games on the back line as a junior, earning Second Team All-MAAC honors, helping to anchor the Bronc defense and she pitched in on the offensive end of the field, scoring two goals, both in conference play.
“Dezarae is playing outstanding,” said Lori Hussong. “She is coming off a great season. She is one of the best defenders in the conference and has the knack for when to be aggressive in making plays. Along with Stacey (Dileo), their presence is going to make the back line hard to score on.”
A 62-game veteran and preseason All-MAAC selection, Dileo was a Second Team All-MAAC honoree in 2013, starting all 20 games on the back line.
“Stacey came into the preseason ready to go and her veteran leadership on the back line will keep us in games.”
McCormick, an All-MAAC academic honoree, played in all 20 games as a junior, making 10 starts and came off the bench with a goal and an assist in Rider’s win over MAAC-rival Monmouth, helping the Broncs clinch the regular season title.
“Laura is coming back from an injury,” Lori Hussong said. “She is very skilled and has the ability to score. She is working her way back but really brings the off the field intangibles of being a good team leader.”
Alonso appeared in 14 games, all off the bench as a sophomore. While she only had three shots on net in 2013, two resulted in goals, at Georgetown and at Brown.
“Melyssa had a fantastic preseason after moving to the back line,” Lori Hussong said. “She is tough, strong and quick and really strengthens our defense.”
A Second Team All-MAAC honoree as a sophomore, Ippolite played in all 20 games, making 17 starts.
“Rachel is getting better and better,” Lori Hussong said. “She is coming off an injury from the spring. As she gets back into top form, she will be able to provide an offensive spark for us.
A MAAC All-Academic honoree and veteran of 34 games, Prettyman started all 20 games as a sophomore and tied for fifth in save percentage and was eighth nationally in goals against average.
“Joelle is the key to our defense,” said assistant coach Dan Hussong. “She is an effective player and our goals are high for her. She improved in the offseason, both on the field and in her communication as well. She continues to work hard to get better.”
A preseason All-MAAC honoree after earning Second Team All-MAAC honors in 2013 as a Rider rookie, Alsina played in 18 games, making 16 starts and was second on the team with 10 assists.
“Carlota learned a lot from her rookie season and keeps improving,” Lori Hussong said. “Her hunger for the ball is going to be a catalyst for our attacking style of play. She has great vision.”
Barrett appeared in six games during her rookie campaign.
“Nicole is still working through an injury,” Lori Hussong said. “She is working to get back on the field and works hard to keep everyone’s spirits high.”
Cunningham missed all of her rookie campaign due to an injury.
“Melissa is fighting back from an ACL injury,” Lori Hussong said. “We are hoping for her to be in top form by the middle of the season and she could be a great mid-year addition to our lineup as we head into conference play.”
Nyce appeared in 19 games as a Rider rookie, making 14 starts and had an assist in Rider’s win against MAAC rival Sacred Heart.
“Carrie had a productive rookie season,” Dan Hussong said. “She is versatile at many different positions and she is in the mix to be part of the midfield.”
As a Rider rookie, O’Brien appeared in all 20 games, making 18 starts and of her nine goals, five were game-winners, including four in MAAC games.
“Kalyn worked hard over the summer to make herself better after a solid rookie season,” Lori Hussong said. “She is going to be our field leader on the offensive side. She can put the ball in the cage and is a scrappy player.”
Spaeder appeared in all 20 games, making one start as a Rider rookie and had the game-winning goal in Rider’s 2-1 MAAC win over Quinnipiac.
“Carlie worked hard in the off-season and came into the preseason in great condition,” Lori Hussong said. “As her confidence continues to grow, her production will increase. She is a needed presence on the field.”
“We have a lot of strengths and a lot of natural ability on the squad,” Lori Hussong added. “With that said, we are going to have growing pains with all-time leading scorer (Sandra Penas) having graduated. If we work hard and overcome adversity and control the things we can control, we have a chance to be successful. Figuring out our best combinations on the offensive end of the field is going to be the challenge.”
Rider’s rookie class consists of Allison Baligian, Lauren Bock, Megan Eppley, Kesheal Henderson, Shannon Hughes, Hannah Isaacs and Lauren Miano.
“This is going to be a teaching season,” said Lori Hussong. “Just some of the basics and strategies; we want a strong foundation so that their natural ability can then take over and so that we put the players in a position to be successful. If they are willing to work hard every day, we will improve as the season goes on.”
Baligian is a midfielder/forward from Flemington, New Jersey. Baligian helped her Hunterdon Central squad to the North Jersey Group IV, North 2 sectional championship as a sophomore and senior and earned First Team All-County honors and team MVP honors as a junior and senior.
“Allison is very tenacious and smart and is all over the field when she plays,” Lori Hussong said. “She gives us a lot of energy when she is in the game.”
Bock is a midfielder/forward from Freehold, New Jersey where she earned Second Team All-State Group IV and First Team All-Shore, All-County, All-Conference and All-District honors for the 2013 New Jersey State Sectional champions.
“Lauren is crafty around the cage and has a knack for getting her stick on the ball,” Lori Hussong said. “We are looking for her to spark the offense. She is a big time scorer.”
Eppley is a midfielder/back from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Eppley was the varsity captain for the 2013 Mid-Penn Commonwealth Division Champions and she also helped her squad to back to back PIAA District III playoff appearances as a junior and senior.
“Megan intercepts the ball well and transitions down the field,” Lori Hussong said. “She is a tough and skilled player who fits our style of play.”
Henderson is a midfielder/forward from Heath, Massachusetts. Also a track all-star at Mohawk Regional High School, Henderson led her squad to the Western Massachusetts finals as a junior and senior as the team captain and earned All-Western Massachusetts honors. Henderson was also a USFHA National Futures selection as a junior and senior, was a USFHA Junior Olympic selection in 2012 and was a NFHCA All-America nominee in 2013.
“Kesheal is a tremendous athlete with quickness we haven’t seen in a long time,” said Lori Hussong.
Hughes is forward from South Plainfield, New Jersey. An honor roll student at South Plainfield High School, Hughes was named the Middlesex County Player of the Year by the Star Ledger as a junior and senior and was also recognized with Player of the Year honors by the Home News Tribune in 2012 and 2013. Tied as the school record holder with 79 points in a season, Hughes earned First Team All-State All-Group II and First Team All-North Jersey honors as a senior and was a member of three Greater Middlesex County championship teams and her squad advanced to two New Jersey Sectional Finals.
“Shannon is an outstanding player,” said Lori Hussong. “You could put her at any position on the field and she will excel. She had competitive fire; if she loses the ball, she has the fight to get it back. We will depend on her to carry some of the offensive attack.”
Isaacs is a goalie from Piscataway, New Jersey. At Piscataway High School, Isaacs was the Defensive Player of the Year for Middlesex County as a junior and senior and earned All-North Jersey Group IV honors as a sophomore, junior and senior.
“Hannah is very skilled and a solid communicator which is hard to teach,” said Dan Hussong. “She shows her best in pressure situations and is pushing our starting goalie which makes the goalkeeping that much better. She is learning fast and is a hard worker.”
Miano is a midfielder/forward from Johnsonburg, New Jersey where she was a four-year varsity letterwinner at Warren Regional High School, earning All-Conference honors as a junior and senior.
“Lauren is a gifted forward with great receiving abilities and she makes things happen around the goal,” said Lori Hussong.
“We have a lot of quickness,” Lori Hussong added. “Once the younger players gain that confidence that they can achieve on the Division I level, then the team will be successful on a consistent basis. The rookie class has been very receptive and coachable. What I’m pleased about the most is the cohesion between the upperclassmen and the younger players; both groups want to win and the seniors are helping and working with the freshmen just as much as the younger players are working with the seniors. Everyone is trying to make their teammates better players and now we just have to take that cohesiveness and put it onto the playing field. Our expectations are always the same, make the conference playoffs and maintain that level to give ourselves a chance at a conference title. We have the fight and spirit in us to be competing in the end.”