College Field Hockey
Rider University 1, Missouri State University 0
LAWRENCEVILLE—The Rider University field hockey team won the 2014 season opener, scoring a 1-0 victory over Missouri State on Saturday afternoon at Ben Cohen Field.
“This was a tough game for an opening game,” said head coach Lori Hussong who has amassed 198 career victories in 15 seasons at Rider. “Missouri State was very good, they were aggressive and they intercepted the ball very well. Their tackling skills are exceptional. We are still in the process of working out some kinks and putting players in the best position to help the team.”
Senior Dezarae Fillmyer (Roebling/Florence) put Rider in the best position possible, scoring the only goal of the contest, after converting a penalty stroke 14:42 into the game. For Fillmyer, who had two shots and played all 70 minutes, it was the fourth goal of her career and second game-winner. A team captain and veteran of 58 games, Fillmyer was named to the preseason All-MAAC team for this season after earning Second Team All-MAAC honors as a junior.
“The leadership from Dez this year has been outstanding,” Hussong said. “You can’t ask for a better person, someone who communicates and leaves it all out on the field whether it is practice or games. Her teammates can look to her as a leader and try to emulate her and what she does.”
“I think we played well and together as a team,” said Fillmyer. “We worked up from the defensive line all the way to the forwards who put forth that last effort and as a team, we did what we had to do.”
“The entire defensive unit played very well,” Hussong said. “We got great leadership from Dez, Stacey (Dileo) and Melyssa (Alonso).”
Rider won six of 13 games that were decided by one goal in 2013.
“The back line is working really well,” Fillmyer added. “And Joelle has really strong communication skills.”
Junior Joelle Prettyman (Newark, Del/St. Marks) notched her fifth career shutout and 23rd career win, making two saves. Prettyman started all 20 games as a sophomore and tied for fifth in save percentage and was eighth nationally in goals against average.
“Joelle made some big plays toward the end and Allison Baligian at the midfield played a very good game as well.” Hussong added.
Baligian, a freshman from Flemington, New Jersey (Hunterdon Central) started and played 66 of the 70 minutes.
Rider (1-0) out-shot Missouri State 13-4 and the Broncs held an 11-5 penalty corner advantage over the Bears. The Broncs led the nation, averaging 10.75 penalty corners last season.
Freshman Lauren Bock (Freehold/Freehold Boro) led Rider with three shots, playing 47 minutes off the bench.
Rider survived a flurry with 16 minutes left in the game when back to back shots by Missouri State were saved defensively by senior Stacey Dileo (Fairfield, Conn./Fairfield Warde) and junior Melyssa Alonso (Toms River/Toms River HS North).
MSU opened the season with a 3-0 loss to Rider’s conference rival Monmouth University on Friday.
This was the first meeting between Missouri State and Rider in field hockey.
This is the second straight season that Rider has won on opening day, having defeated Colgate 3-2 in Hamilton, New York on August 30, 2013. The Broncs also won on opening day from 2009-2011.
The Broncs improved to 31-3 all-time on Ben Cohen Field
Rider hosts former conference rival Saint Francis (Pa.) on Monday at 1:00pm.
“We are going to watch the tape, fix the things we did wrong today and improve the things we did well and come back strong on Monday,” Fillmyer added.
“We expect Saint Francis to be very physical and they are big ball hitters,” Hussong said about the Red Flash. “They have a lot of speed so we are going to watch some tape on them, see what they do well and go forward from there.”