College Field Hockey
Rider University 8, Robert Morris University 0
Northeast Conference Game
Broncs clinch at least a share of NEC Regular Season Title
LAWRENCEVILLE--The Rider University field hockey team celebrated senior day and for the third season in a row, clinched at least a share of the Northeast Conference regular season title with an 8-0 win over Robert Morris on Sunday at Ben Cohen Field.
"I worried about the emotion of the day," said head coach Lori Hussong. "This group of seniors has been outstanding, not only in their play but in their leadership and how they conduct themselves off the field. I was hoping we wouldn't get off to a slow start and thankfully we didn't."
For Rider (15-1, 6-0 NEC), which won its 11th game in a row, seniors Virginia Egusquiza (Getxo, Spain) and Megan Pisani (Plainsboro/W. Windsor-Plainsboro North) and junior Marlaine Schneider (Feasterville, Pa./Neshaminy) each scored twice with Egusquiza passing Christina Ang as Rider's all-time leading scorer.
"There are no words that can be used to describe what Virginia has done for Rider field hockey," said Hussong. "Not only has she been a tremendous player for us but also an outstanding role model in how she carries herself off the field. She is very skilled and disciplined and raises the level of play of her teammates. It will be very hard to replace Virginia the player and Virginia the person."
Egusquiza scored off a rebound just 2:56 into the game and Pisani made it 2-0 Broncs cleaning up another rebound at the 6:20 mark.
"Scoring early in the game was important for us," said Hussong. "It allowed the defense to settle down and get into a groove. Scoring that many goals early on really helped us relax and play. It was a fun game for all of the players."
"Scoring early set the tone and pace of the game," Pisani said. "We fed off that momentum and gelled and that took some of the pressure off. We were able to play relaxed while having fun and we weren't playing nervous."
Egusquiza, the two-time reigning NEC Player of the Year, scored her 16th of the season and 44th of her career on a penalty stroke at 17:43 to set the Rider career scoring record with 146 points and put the Broncs up three goals. Egusquiza is already the Rider record holder in assists with 58.
"I didn't realize that I was that close to the top of the list," Egusquiza said about becoming the leading scorer in Rider history. "When everyone started screaming after I scored, it hit me a little and I got really excited."
Pisani scored off a steal at 19:33 to give Rider a 4-0 lead. Pisani now has 11 goals this season and 48 in her Rider career and ranks sixth on the Bronc career scoring list with 106 points.
"Megan has persevered through injuries and made that commitment to our program," Hussong said. "She worked as hard as she could in the training room to get back on the field and play. She really got us going this year."
"Clinching the title feels awesome," Pisani said. "Especially doing it on senior day, this was an important game in our season."
The teams played even for the first seven minutes of the second half before Schneider scored twice on back to back passes from sophomore Sandra Penas (Barcelona, Spain) at 42:40 and 44:15, giving the Broncs a 6-0 lead.
Penas then scored 1:05 later to give Rider a seven-goal lead with sophomore Alicia Govannicci (Springfield, Pa./Cardinal O'Hara) converting a pass from senior Stephanie McGinty (Trevose, Pa./Neshaminy) for the final score.
Penas, who leads Rider with 17 goals, is 13th on Rider's all-time scoring list with 76 points (31g, 14a) after her four-point game today.
Senior goalie Rebecca Lotito (Oceanport/Shore Regional) picked up the win and improved to 28-3 all-time, making three saves. Freshman Rachel Sload (Coatesville, Pa./Coatesville) worked the final 10:28, making one save as Rider recorded its ninth shutout of the season.
"We never think the game is going to be easy," Egusquiza said. "Robert Morris gave us challenges and getting the early lead helped us push through. The early four-goal lead made it a fun game."
Rider out-shot the Colonials 28-5 and the Broncs held a 6-4 penalty corner advantage.
Rider defeated Robert Morris 5-0 last season, 4-0 in 2009, 3-0 in 2008, 1-0 in 2007 and 5-0 in 2006 and the Broncs have won seven of the eight games all-time against the Colonials. RMU last scored against Rider on September 23, 2005 when the Colonials won 1-0 at Moon Township.
Rider is now 14-0 all-time on the lighted turf field that opened in the fall of 2010.
The win is Rider's 22nd in a row in NEC regular season play, dating back to 2008. Under Hussong, Rider also won NEC regular season titles in 2001, 2003, 2005, 2009 and 2010 and the Broncs were NEC Tournament champions in 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2010.
Prior to the game, Rider honored its senior class of 2012, Egusquiza, Pisani, McGinty, Lotito, Mary Morano (Basking Ridge/Ridge) and Natasha Tukeva (Easton, Pa./Freedom), which has compiled the most wins of any four-year period in Rider's field hockey history at 61-13, 27-1 in the NEC.
"This has been a great four years," Pisani said. "I haven't really thought much about my career yet, I just want to continue to go out and play and be successful. I'm just happy for the success of the team. We are all different people but we mix together so well. We are always there for each other and that makes it special not only on the field but off of it as well. You can never break that bond that we've developed."
A win October 30 at Saint Francis (Pa.) will give Rider the 2011 NEC title outright and a third straight undefeated NEC regular season.
Making its 12th playoff appearance in a row, Rider will host the four-team NEC playoffs on November 4-5.
"This game was huge in so many different ways," Hussong added. "It gave us home field advantage for the tournament and that is big, playing in this stadium, in front of our fans, sleeping in our own beds; hosting is good for many, many reasons."
"The game was important," Egusquiza added. "Now we get to play in front of our home crowd for the playoffs and play on turf you are used to and sleep in your own bed as well. Those things help and give us the edge as we look to win another championship."
The Broncs host the University of Pennsylvania Wednesday night at 7pm.