Adams leads strong S.J. group at Rider / By: CELESTE E. WHITTAKER
The Rider University field hockey team has a plethora of South Jersey connections.
First of all, coach Lori Hussong was a standout player at Cinnaminson and then Trenton State (now the College of New Jersey), then the team's roster includes five players from South Jersey, including Jackie Adams, a junior midfielder, who was a standout player at Shawnee High School.
The Broncs are off to an impressive 11-1 start, with the only loss coming to Hofstra (5-2) on Sept. 11. Adams has started all 11 games she's appeared in and has an assist.
"We started off kind of rough, just working through some things," said Adams, whose team is outshooting its opponents 27.1 to 8.6 and has outscored its opponents 59-12. "We're on the right path, we're 11-1 now and we've been looking good. We're right where we need to be. We're at a perfect area right now in our season.
"We do have a lot of South Jersey girls. Obviously, Shawnee is a very competitive high school with field hockey, but I think no matter where you go to high school, college is always going to be at a different level and the pace is going to always be faster. It's a huge transformation to go through."
The other South Jersey players include Gabrielle Burgo and Ellie LaBar, both of Collingswood; Dez Fillmyer (Florence) and Shari Grinceri (St. Joseph). Burgo has started four of the 12 games she's appeared in and has 11 points, LaBar has started 10 of 10 games and has three points and Grinceri has appeared in six games.
"I played on a festival team with Gabrielle Burgo my senior year of high school," the 5-foot-2 Adams said. "Now, we're like best friends. It's really nice playing close to home. Our parents and friends can come to a lot of games and playing with girls from your areas, we have a lot of mutual friends. It's nice to go to college and be familiar with people already."
That familiarity and camaraderie may be one reason for the team's success. There's a great cohesiveness on both sides of the ball. Plus, coming from tradition-rich programs such as Shawnee, Collingswood, Florence and St. Joseph certainly doesn't hurt.
Adams won a Group 3 state title in 2007 at Shawnee and also won the Tournament of Champions title that year as well.
"I think we have really great feeder programs in South Jersey," Adams said. "When a lot of girls enter high school, they're already experienced. No matter what group you're in or how many kids are in your high school, it's going to be competitive."
Dan Hussong, (Lori's husband), is an assistant field hockey coach at Rider. Both think highly of Adams and of the contributions she makes on and off the field. She's started 42 of the 44 games she's appeared in at Rider.
"Jackie has continued to work hard at her game all summer long and that has paid off," Lori Hussong said in the team's media guide. "She brings energy all over the field and the biggest key to her success is her quickness to the ball which gives her the ability to pressure the ball and cause havoc. Without her back pressure our defense system doesn't work."
"Jackie is a team player," Dan Hussong added. "She injects enthusiasm into practice and the games."
Reach Celeste E. Whittaker at firstname.lastname@example.org