College Field Hockey
Rider University 3, Lehigh University 2
BETHLEHEM, Pa.—What a difference one year makes.
One season after defeating Lehigh University by eight goals, the Rider University field hockey team found itself taken to the limit, before escaping with a 3-2 win against the Mountain Hawks on Sunday afternoon at the Ulrich Sports Complex.
“It was a good, competitive game,” said head coach Lori Hussong. “We played ok. We came up with the goals when we needed them. Lehigh is better than their record this season and much improved from when we played them last season. They played really well.”
For Rider (8-3), freshman Nicole Hareau (Montevideo, Uruguay) scored twice, including the game-winner with less than 20 minutes remaining in the second half.
“The game was tougher than we expected,” said Hareau. “We didn’t play our best and fortunately, we were able to get the victory. We need to work on some things in practice.”
Hareau had four goals for the week, including two game-winners, with senior Sandra Penas (Barcelona, Spain) assisting on all four. The rookie leads the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with 10 goals.
“The two goals were both corner plays,” Hareau said. “On the game-winner, the coaches told us where to be and Sandra made a great play and I’m glad it worked.”
“Nicole is a goal scorer and she has a knack for staying poised under pressure,” Hussong said. “When we need her to score, she has come up in a big way for us. She is working hard in practice and is looking to improve every time she steps on the field. We are counting on her to be one of the main focal points of our offense.”
The Broncs opened the scoring in the 24th minute when Penas fired a back handed shot from the top of the circle off a pass from freshman Carlota Alsina (Barcelona, Spain).
Rider’s all-time leading scorer, Penas had a four-point day with a goal and two assists.
“Without Sandra’s leadership on the field, we would be hard pressed to put anything in the cage,” Hussong said. “As good as she is, she also looks to get better with each practice and each game.”
“We should have scored more goals,” said Penas. “And we definitely should not have let Lehigh score twice. We didn’t take advantage of our opportunities or play our best game but we still got the win. It’s good to get the win but we need to play better and improve on some things.”
The Broncs led 1-0 at intermission.
Lehigh (2-10) came right back, hitting the back of the cage, just 1:41 into the second half, tying the score 1-1.
Hareau scored her first of the day, taking a Penas pass and beating the Lehigh goalie low from the top of the circle to give Rider its second one-goal lead of the day.
The Mountain Hawks tied the game 2-2 just 4:46 later, using a backhanded shot off a transition play.
Hareau scored her second of the day, taking another pass from Penas during a penalty corner, beating Lehigh’s goalie with a low shot at 50:19, giving the Broncs their third lead of the day for the final score.
“Of course we would like the mentality to change after we score a goal,” Hussong said about giving up a one-goal lead twice. “After we scored, we got complacent both times and thankfully, we were able to put the third goal home. If the game was five minutes longer, it may have been a different ball game.”
Rider out-shot Lehigh 26-14 and the Broncs held an 11-7 penalty corner advantage.
Sophomore goalie Joelle Prettyman (Newark, Del./St. Mark’s) made eight saves in the game.
The Broncs have won 18 of the 35 games (1 tie) in the series against the Mountain Hawks, including the last five.
Last season, Rider defeated Lehigh 8-0 with Penas having a seven point day with three goals and an assist.
Rider has won two straight, both by one goal and the Broncs are 5-3 this season in one-goal games, including 2-0 in overtime.
After opening the season with 10 of 11 games on the road, Rider returns to Ben Cohen Field on Wednesday, October 9 when the Broncs will Play 4 The Cure in a non-conference contest against the University of Pennsylvania at 5 p.m.
The team will raise donations and awareness in the on-going battle against breast cancer during the game.
“Wednesday is an important night,” Hussong said. “We are raising donations to honor our team mentor Cathy Carter-Romero who has continued to battle this disease. She is an inspiration to so many people and we are looking to put forth a solid effort for our fans as we raise donations and awareness to battle this disease. Penn is having a great season and it is our last game before conference play so it will be important for many reasons, both on and off the field.”