College Field Hockey
Nine New Additions
LAWRENCEVILLE—Head coach Lori Hussong of the Rider University field hockey team recently announced the addition of nine players who will begin play this fall.
Joining the team as members of the Class of 2017 are Nicole Barrett, Carlota Clotet Alsina, Melissa Cunningham, Nicole Hareau, Carrie Nyce, Kalyn O’Brien, Carlie Spaeder, Carolina Vergroesen and Dorothy Von Ahnen.
“These nine recruits represent one of our biggest classes ever and will prove themselves to be one of our best yet,” said Hussong who begins her 14th season at Rider with 184 career wins and six NCAA Play-In game appearances. “They come from all over the world, yet they are ‘cut from the same cloth’. They are all high in energy, rich in skill and very, very positive. We can't wait to get them all together and add them in with our returners. We expect them to buy into our team philosophy of giving their best effort from the start and help us position our team to make a run for the first Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference field hockey title.”
Coming off four straight Northeast Conference regular season championships and three straight NCAA Play-In games, the Broncs open play in the newly formed MAAC Field Hockey League this fall with the task of replacing a senior class that won a program best 67 games from 2009-12.
Barrett, from Neshanic Station, New Jersey (Hunterdon Central High School) is a midfielder/forward who earned First Team All-Skyland Conference honors in 2011 and 2012 and was a two-time team most valuable player.
“Nicole is quick and aggressive,” Hussong said. “Her style of play will fit nicely into our system. She has excellent game sense, is poised under pressure and is capable of playing any position on the field.”
A 4.0 student from Barcelona, Spain, Clotet Alsina is a defender that plays for Catalonia's highest level Regional Team and she is also a member of the Spanish U18 National Team where she has represented Spain in several international tournaments.
“Carlota is a skilled and aggressive defender who plays at the highest level in Spain,” Hussong said. “She has a wealth of international playing experience that will give her confidence as she makes the transition to the collegiate game. We were thrilled that Carlota chose to follow in the path of fellow Spanish standouts Virginia Egusquiza (Gexto, Spain) and Sandra Penas (Barcelona, Spain) and we expect her to help raise the level of our play. We feel confident that Carlota will quickly adapt to our style of play and will make an immediate impact on the field.”
Cunningham, from Oaklyn, New Jersey (Collingswood High School), earned First Team All-Group II and First Team All-Conference honors, leading her team with 20 assists from the midfield position.
“Melissa is an explosive, crafty player who can play several positions on the field,” said Hussong. “She will do whatever it takes to get the job done. She is an extremely smart player who knows how to put herself in position to help support the ball whether it is on attack or defense. Her range is excellent and her ability to see the open player down the field will make her a player to watch. We love her versatility and her willingness to learn and improve.”
Hareau comes to Rider from Montevideo, Uruguay and South America. An attack player from Club Bigua, she led the league in scoring for the past three seasons. Currently a member of the Uruguay National Team, Hareau has competed internationally at both the 16U and 18U levels and has been one of the team’s top scorers. She recently played in the Four Nations Tournament and was the youngest player invited to train and play with the Senior National team and she was also selected to the Uruguay Indoor National team.
“Nicole is a gifted scorer who will bring some 'new tricks' to our offensive game,” said Hussong. “She is always ready to score and has a variety of shots that will bring excitement on the offensive end of the field. Her training and international playing experience with the both the indoor and outdoor Uruguayan National team has been very valuable to her skill development. She has a strong work ethic and a very positive attitude and we can’t wait for her arrival.”
Nyce is a midfielder from Pennsburg, Pennsylvania (Upper Perkiomen High School) where she was a two-time All-State and First Team All-Conference and All-Area honoree as a four-year starter.
“Carrie has great field vision and great range and instincts as a midfielder and that will make her a valuable asset to our team,” said Hussong. “She is always thinking ‘steal and go’ and her intercepting skills are outstanding. On the field, she is a tenacious competitor.”
O’Brien, from Southampton, New Jersey (Seneca High School), was a First Team All-Conference honoree and earned team Offensive Most Valuable Player honors.
“Kalyn is a diamond in the rough,” said Hussong. “She's a quick and skilled player who is all over the field and she will flourish in our system. She is the type of player who thinks score first and has a variety of tricks to penetrate the circle and get the ball toward the goal. She has the ability to be a huge contributor on the field.”
Spaeder comes to Rider from Newtown Square, Pennsylvania (Cardinal O’Hara) where she was a three-time All-Catholic League honoree and First Team All-Delaware County, scoring 76 career goals.
“Carlie has lightning speed,” said Hussong. “She is hard-nosed, tenacious, and skilled. Her second effort is contagious and motivating to all who watch her. Her speed and skill combined make her extremely dangerous in the attacking third.”
A four-year letterwinner, Spaeder set the Cardinal O’Hara assist record as a senior with 28 while also scoring 20 goals.
A 4.0 student, Vergroesen comes to Rider from Amsterdam, (Netherlands). A midfielder/defender, Vergroesen plays in the highest women’s division level nationally for the H.C. Pinoke Club.
“Carolina is a 'special player' who will bring energy and speed to our midfield,” Hussong said. “She impressed us with her athleticism, tenacity and speed. She possesses outstanding intercepting skills and naturally transitions into attacking mode every time she wins possession of the ball. She has excellent game sense and great knowledge of the game.”
A goalie from Hightstown, New Jersey (Hightstown High School), Von Ahnen earned First Team Central Jersey Field Hockey Coaches Association honors and First Team All Colonial Valley Conference honors and was named an 'Unsung Hero Award Winner' by The Trentonian.
“Dorothy is a taller goalie which intrigues us,” said assistant coach and goalie guru Dan Hussong. “She is aggressive and athletic and is not afraid to challenge and go after the ball. We've seen her compete and she is a 'fighter'. She is eager to learn and improve and we expect her to compete for the starting job.”
Rider returns 13 letterwinners and six starters from a team that went 15-6 in 2012. Rider lost the NCAA Play-In game at the University of Massachusetts 2-1 in overtime.
The Broncs open play at Colgate on August 30. The home opener at Ben Cohen Field is September 20, under the lights against Towson at 7pm and the conference opener is October 13 against Robert Morris at noon.
As announced by the MAAC in mid-June, Rider University will serve as host of the four-team conference playoffs November 8-9. In its former conference (Northeast), the Broncs qualified for the four-team playoffs 13 straight seasons, all under Lori and Dan Hussong.