College Field Hockey
Rider University 4, Sacred Heart University 0
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Game
LAWRENCEVILLE—On senior day, youth was served.
Led by two goals from freshman Kalyn O'Brien (Southampton/Seneca), the Rider University field hockey team won 4-0 over Sacred Heart in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game, clinching a playoff spot for the 14th season in a row.
“I’m really happy for the team,” said head coach Lori Hussong. “Going into the season, we knew we were young and that it would be a matter of time before the players gelled. The players have stepped up and today was a testament to their hard work. I’m proud of the effort.”
O’Brien gave Rider (12-5, 4-1 MAAC) a 1-0 lead in the 28th minute when she slammed home a shot from freshman Carrie Nyce (Pennsburg, Pa./Upper Perkiomen) as it was crossing the goal line.
“We had to do it today for our seniors,” O’Brien said. “And it is a tradition for us to make it to the playoffs. It may have not been pretty but through hard work and hustle, we did what we had to do. Our seniors have taught us a lot and are great leaders.”
Rider out-shot Sacred Heart 18-2 in the opening 35 minutes but only led by a goal at intermission.
O’Brien, who is a two-time MAAC Rookie of the Week honoree, hit a chip shot off a cross from freshman Carlie Spaeder (Newtown Square, Pa./Cardinal O’Hara), scoring her second of the game and eighth of the season to give the Broncs a two-goal lead in the 51st minute.
Freshman Nicole Hareau (Montevideo, Uruguay) scored her conference leading 14th goal of the season, converting a pass from senior Alicia Govannicci (Springfield, Pa./Cardinal O’Hara) on a penalty corner in the 59th minute to give Rider a 3-0 lead. Hareau is a four-time MAAC Rookie of the Week honoree and has been recognized by the conference the last three weeks in a row.
“We were excited to play on senior day,” said Govannicci who is 22nd on Rider’s all-time scoring list. “This season has been a great experience. The team is very close and that makes it even better, playing with this group of teammates. Clinching a playoff spot today was even more exciting.”
Rider has 45 goals this season, 27 by rookies (60 percent).
Junior defender Dezarae Fillmyer (Roebling/Florence) scored her second goal of the season, tipping in a pass from senior Sandra Penas (Barcelona, Spain) with 9:06 remaining in the game for the final score.
“I could not have scored without Sandra getting me the ball in the circle,” Fillmyer said. “It was a team effort.”
Sophomore goalie Joelle Prettyman (Newark, Del./St. Mark’s) played 63:30 and made four saves with freshman Dorothy Von Ahnen (East Windsor/Hightstown) playing the final 6:30 for the combined shutout, Rider’s fourth shutout of the season. Prettyman lowered her goals against average to 1.21.
“We could not have gotten the shutout without the play of the offense,” Fillmyer said. “When they work back, it takes a lot of the pressure off the back line. All of the backs are working hard together and communicating.”
Sacred Heart goalie Mary Altepeter made 15 saves in 62:22 of play.
Rider out-shot Sacred Heart 33-6 and the Broncs held a 15-0 penalty corner advantage.
“The shots were coming,” Hussong said. “Sacred Heart’s goalie was outstanding today. We kept at it and were finally able to start scoring.”
Rider and Sacred Heart met in Connecticut last season with the Broncs pulling out a 1-0, double overtime victory on a goal by then senior Gabby Burgo.
Rider defeated Sacred Heart 4-0 in 2011 on the Ben Cohen Field in Lawrenceville. The Broncs and Pioneers have met 25 times with Rider winning 19. Rider defeated Sacred Heart 2-0 in Connecticut in 2010 and 3-0 on the road in 2009. In 2008, Rider defeated the Pioneers 3-1 in Lawrenceville and 2-0 in the '08 NEC semifinals at Lock Haven.
After 13 straight appearances in the four-team Northeast Conference playoffs, Rider made the four-team MAAC playoffs in the inaugural season of the conference sponsoring field hockey.
Rider will look to qualify for the NCAA Play-In game for the fourth season in a row when the Broncs host the MAAC Championships on November 8-9 at Ben Cohen Field.
Rider will play in the second semifinal at 6 p.m., on Friday, November 8 against an opponent to be determined. The opening semifinal game will be at 3 p.m. The MAAC championship game is Saturday, November 9 at 3 p.m.
“The playoffs are tough but fun as well,” Govannicci added. “I can’t wait, especially with Rider hosting it.”
Prior to today’s game, Rider honored its graduating seniors, Govannicci, Penas, Kristine Dougherty and Shari Grinceri, a group that has led the Broncs to 62 wins and three straight NCAA Play-In games and three straight conference championships.
“Our four seniors have given so much to the program,” said Hussong. “Every year, it is kind of a bittersweet moment for the coaching staff. You can’t ask for anything more from the seniors than they have given us. They are all positive role models and team leaders, on and off the field.”
“Senior day is a good time and also a sad time,” Fillmyer said. “You want to win for your seniors. We are going to continue to do what we can to make the seniors happy and go out successful.”
“The seniors have made the playoffs every season they have been at Rider,” O’Brien said. “We (the freshmen) knew at the beginning of the year that we had to work hard to keep that tradition going.”
Quinnipiac (3-1 MAAC) defeated Monmouth (3-1 MAAC) 4-2 on Sunday with Bryant (3-1 MAAC) having the day off from conference play.
At 4-1 in MAAC play, the Broncs have one conference game remaining, at Monmouth University on November 1 before facing cross-town rival Princeton University in a non-conference contest November 3 to finish out the regular season.
“Friday is important,” Hussong said about the game at Monmouth. “There is a regular season title on the line and we want to get that job done and go from there.”