Field Hockey Claims Three Major Awards
College Field Hockey
Penas MAAC Co-Player of the Year
Hareau MAAC Rookie of the Year
Hussong MAAC Coach of the Year
10 Broncs MAAC All-Academic
LAWRENCEVILLE—The Rider University field hockey team took home three major awards it was announced Thursday evening at the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference awards banquet, hosted at Rider, prior to the conference championship tournament.
Rider senior forward Sandra Penas (Barcelona, Spain) was named the MAAC Co-Player of the Year, freshman forward Nicole Hareau (Montevideo, Uruguay/Colegio Ingles) was named the MAAC Rookie of the Year and head coach Lori Hussong was named the Anaconda Sports MAAC Coach of the Year.
Penas leads the league in assists per game with 0.68 finishing the regular season with 13 assists, the highest in the MAAC. Her assists per game mark is currently eighth best in the nation. She finished the regular season with 1.63 points per game for a total of 31 points which is tied for the highest in the league.
“I’m so happy for Sandra,” Hussong said. “This has been a tough year for her; she is getting double and triple teamed but she has never, ever lost her spirit or her desire to excel. Player of the Year is quite an accomplishment. I’m proud of everything she has done for our program.”
“I got really excited when I heard my name,” said Penas. “I wasn’t expecting it. These awards are awesome but the most gratifying things are the team championships, four regular season titles and so far, the three conference championships. I hope the culmination of my career will result in a fourth conference title.”
Penas was named the 2013 MAAC Preseason Player of Year as well as MAAC Offensive Player of the Week for the weeks of Sept. 23 and Oct. 8.
“I feel really honored,” Penas added. “I could not have accomplished this without my team.”
Hareau, from Montevideo, Uruguay, leads the MAAC in goals with 15 and ranks second in the league and 14th nationally in goals per game with 0.79. She finished her rookie campaign with 30 points, just one point behind the conference leaders. Hareau was named MAAC Rookie of the Week four times this season.
“I’m going to give all the credit to assistant coach Dan Hussong on Nicole’s development,” Lori Hussong said. “He’s done an awesome job recruiting and Nicole has had a great freshman campaign. Scoring 15 goals is hard to do and we are looking forward to seeing her three more seasons in a Rider uniform.”
“I feel really honored,” Hareau said. “Any of the freshmen in the league could have won it. This is a team award; I could not have scored without my teammates playing hard and getting me the ball. This is more recognition for the team and not for me personally.”
Since 1998, this is Rider’s eighth conference Rookie of the Year award, including current assistant coach Virginia Egusquiza in 2008, Marlaine Schneider in 2009 and Penas in 2010.
“Being compared to either Virginia or Sandra, that’s insane,” Hareau added. “They are excellent players and I just look up to them. It just shows the international players that they can have a successful career in the United States.”
Hussong, currently in her 14th season at Rider, led the Broncs to a 5-1 conference record and an overall mark of 13-6. Rider won the MAAC regular season title and earned a number one seed in the championship.
“It’s a real honor to be voted by your peers as Coach of the Year,” Hussong said. “With the level of competition, this could have gone to any coach in the league. I’m happy and proud that Rider has done so well and I’m just a beneficiary of that effort.”
The Broncs have now qualified for 14 conference playoffs under Hussong’s leadership. This is the fifth time since 2003 that Hussong has earned conference Coach of the Year accolades.
“It’s not about me winning Coach of the Year,” Hussong added. “It is about the team qualifying for the playoffs and doing the best we can at the end of the season.”
Joining Penas on the All-MAAC First Team from Rider was senior midfielder Alicia Govannicci.
Govannicci (Springfield, Pa./Cardinal O’Hara) enters the tournament tied for 21st on Rider’s all-time scoring list and was a preseason First Team All-MAAC honoree. This season, she has started all 19 games and has three goals and five assists.
Earning Second Team All-MAAC honors for the Broncs was Hareau, freshman midfielder Carlota Alsina (Barcelona, Spain), sophomore midfielder Rachel Ippolite (Woolwich Twp./Kingsway Regional), junior defender Stacey Dileo (Fairfield, Conn./Fairfield Warde) and junior defender Dezarae Fillmyer (Roebling/Florence).
Alsina has played in 17 games, making 15 starts and is second on the team with 10 assists, 16th best in the nation.
Ippolite has played in all 19 games, making 16 starts and has two goals and a defensive save this season.
Dileo has started all 19 games on the back line and had defensive saves in Rider wins at Villanova and at Colgate.
Fillmyer, who scored twice this season, has started all 19 games on the back line, helping to anchor the Bronc defense and had a defensive save at the end of the second overtime at Bryant that sent the game into penalty strokes.
Rider also placed 10 players on the MAAC All-Academic team, including Penas, Govannicci and Fillmyer.
Joining them as academic honorees with a 3.20 grade point average or higher was senior Kristine Dougherty (Feasterville, Pa./Neshaminy) and Shari Grinceri (Hammonton/St. Joseph’s), juniors Katie Fanning (Bridgewater/Bridgewater-Raritan), Laura McCormick (West Windsor/W. Windsor-Plainsboro HS South), Karly Ossowski (New Egypt) and Rachel Schwab (Pottstown, Pa./Owen J. Roberts) and sophomore Joelle Prettyman (Newark, Del./St. Mark’s).
“I’m just as proud for what the team has accomplished in the classroom,” Hussong said. “The team exemplifies what a student-athlete should be.”
Fanning is an Elementary Education/Psychology major with a 3.69 grade point average, Schwab is a Human Resource Management major with a 3.58 g.p.a., McCormick is an Elementary Education/Psychology major with a 3.56 grade point average, Ossowski is a Communication major with a 3.54 g.p.a., and Prettyman is a Liberal Arts major with a 3.53 grade point average.
Fillmyer is an Elementary Education major with a 3.48 grade point average, Govannicci is an Elementary Education/Psychology major with a 3.47 g.p.a., Dougherty is a Business Administration major with a 3.47 grade point average, Grinceri is a Psychology major with a 3.31 g.p.a., and Penas is a Business Administration/International Business major with a 3.25 grade point average.
Rider hosts the four-team MAAC Championships November 8-9 on Ben Cohen Field.
“The league was tough this year,” Hussong said. “As the tournament goes on, anyone can win it. We have to play at the top of our game to accomplish our goal.”
In the opening MAAC semifinal on November 8, #3 Bryant University will face #2 Quinnipiac University, Friday at 3 p.m. In the second semifinal, top seed Rider will host #4 seed Robert Morris University at 6 p.m.
“We have to play our best in every game,” Penas said. “We have to give 100 percent because the tournament is wide open.”
The championship game is Saturday, November 9 at 3 p.m. The Broncs have made the conference championship game in 11 of the last 13 years and Rider is looking to advance to the NCAA Play-In game for the fourth consecutive season.