College Field Hockey NCAA Play-In
University at Albany 2, Rider University 1
ALBANY, NY--The Rider field hockey season came to an end Tuesday in the NCAA Play-In game at Albany.
"Albany's passing was perfection," said head coach Lori Hussong who picked up her 150th win when the Broncs defeated Monmouth for the NEC Title. "We played well and played hard but couldn't get anything generated on offense."
Northeast Conference Champion Rider (16-4) tied the score at 1-1 in the 20th minute when junior Megan Pisani (Plainsboro/West Windsor-Plainsboro North) collected a rebound and tipped in her team-high 16th goal of the season off a shot by sophomore Jackie Adams (Medford Lakes/Shawnee).
"We were in the circle and the goalie was down and Jackie sent a cross ball to the far post," Pisani remembered. "I was right there, the ball was in front of me and I had to get low to get the ball in. It was a great feeling scoring in NCAAs and that gave us the confidence to keep battling and play our best."
America East Champion Albany (14-4), ranked 15th in the nation, took a 1-0 lead just nine minutes into the game on a rebound after a penalty corner and took a 2-1 lead in the 42nd minute when Christina Patrick scored her team-high 13th goal. It was her fifth game-winning goal of the season for the Great Danes.
"We spent the first couple of minutes getting adjusted to the turf," Hussong said. "After we got adjusted, we had our runs down the field and in the second half we had the ball in our half more than Albany did. We were really pressuring them hard but the ball got out and back down the field and that led to the second goal."
"Albany is a good team," Pisani said. "Getting scored on first was definitely a hit for us and gave us the incentive to get it back. No matter the score, we gave it our all and gave them a great game."
Both teams had seven shots, including four shots on goal.
Rider junior goalkeeper Rebecca Lotito (Oceanport/Shore Regional) made two saves. Lotito entered the game with the best goals against average in the nation (0.58).
Pisani and junior Virginia Egusquiza (Getxo, Spain), the NEC Player of the Year and NEC Tournament MVP, each had two of Rider's shots.
Rider entered play having won its last three one-goal games after losing three straight one-goal games earlier in the season. Overall, the Broncs were 3-4 in one-goal games in 2010 with Albany improving to 10-2 in games deceided by one goal.
This was Rider's fourth NCAA Play-In. Rider lost to Boston U. in 2000, and to Richmond in 2002 and 2004 in its other three NCAA Play-Ins.
Rider and Albany was one of three NCAA Play-In games and the Broncs were one of the last 19 teams still standing in the 2010 season entering play today.
"Our goal is always to win the NEC Championship and be one of the final 20 teams still playing," Hussong said. "It doesn't happen every year and when we do get there, it means it was a really special season for us. I'm hoping that the players remember the whole experience, the journey and the things we did to get to today's game. It takes a special group to accomplish what we did this season."
Rider entered play as back to back NEC Regular Season Champions with the Broncs winning the NEC fives times under Hussong, in 2001, 2003, 2005, 2009 and now 2010. Rider has won four NEC Championships under Hussong (2000, 2002, 2004, 2010) and the Broncs have qualified for the four-team NEC playoffs all 11 seasons under Hussong.
Rider and Albany have now met five times with the Broncs winning twice.
After starting the season 3-3, Rider tied a team-record with its 13-game winning streak entering the game after winning both the Northeast Conference regular season and conference championships.
"We didn't start off at our best but that was a learning process for us," Pisani added. "The adversity made us stronger in the long run and made us come out every game knowing anything can happen. We started working better together and that made the team stronger. It stinks to lose but we had a great season."
"We stuck together," Hussong said about the 3-3 start. "We battled through the bad times and gained momentum and kept improving and ended up with some nice team and individual accomplishments."
Albany will now take part in the 16-team NCAA Championship tournament.
The NCAA will announce the 16-team field for the NCAA tournament Tuesday night. First Round games are November 13 and Second Round games are November 14. The semifinals and finals are November 19-21 at the University of Maryland.
"I'm proud of how we kept fighting until the end," Hussong added. "They had an outstanding season and great accomplishments."
Rider returns 16 letterwinners in 2011.