College Field Hockey
Rider takes home Player, Offensive Player and Coach of the Year Honors
Four Broncs - All-NEC
LAWRENCEVILLE--Undefeated for the third year in a row, the Rider University field hockey team added a few accolades to its resume at the 2011 Northeast Conference banquet Thursday night.
For the third year in a row, senior Virginia Egusquiza (Getxo, Spain) was named the Northeast Conference Player of the Year with sophomore Sandra Penas (Barcelona, Spain) taking home the NEC Offensive Player of the Year award and head coach Lori Hussong was voted NEC Coach of the Year by her peers.
Egusquiza, a 5-4 midfielder/forward, is the Rider career leader for points and assists and was recently selected to compete in the prestigious National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Division I Senior All-Star game.
Egusquiza, a four-time NEC First Team selection and the 2008 NEC Rookie of the Year, currently leads the NEC in points and assists and is second in goals to her teammate Penas.
"Virginia is so deserving of this award," said Hussong. "It is a great way for her to go out and cap off her career at Rider. The fact that the other teams in attendance gave her a standing ovation says so much about the type of person that she is and how respected she is around the conference. Everyone warms to her."
Egusquiza is the first player in NEC history to win the Player of the Year award in three straight seasons.
This is the sixth time under head coach Hussong that Rider has had an NEC Player of the Year honoree.
Penas, the 2010 NEC Rookie of the Year, enters the NEC tournament with 20 goals, tops in the conference and her goal total ranks eighth nationally.
"Sandra getting recognized is outstanding," Hussong said. "Monmouth has two excellent players who could have just as easily won the award. I'm happy that she earned this recognition."
This is the second season in a row that Penas earned First Team NEC recognition.
Govannicci, who scored the winning goal with 3:01 left in the NEC Championship game in 2010, started all 18 games for Rider this season and was fourth on the team in assists.
Schneider, a 56-game veteran and the 2009 NEC Rookie of the Year, leads the conference in assists with 17 and enters the playoffs 13th on Rider's all-time scoring list. Schneider is second nationally in assists per game.
"Both Alicia and Marlaine are deserving of the recognition," Hussong added.
For Hussong, this is the fourth time that she has been voted by her colleagues as NEC Coach of the Year having also earned the recognition in 2003, 2005 and 2009. Hussong enters the semifinals with a career record of 167-70 (.705) in 12 seasons.
"The coaching awards don't really matter to me on a personal basis," Hussong said. "The award is more of a reflection on how the team is both on and off the field and the successes that they have had and I'm just the fortunate recipient of the accolade."
This is the 12th year in a row that Rider has qualified for the four-team NEC playoffs, all under Hussong (and husband Dan) and the Broncs have advanced to the NEC Title Game nine times in the last 11 seasons, winning the championship in 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2010.
Rider (17-1, 7-0 NEC) earned the right to host the tournament by winning its sixth NEC regular season title.
The semifinals on Friday will feature the second seed, Monmouth (14-5, 6-1 NEC), against the third seed, Quinnipiac (11-7, 5-2 NEC), at 11:00 am. Top-seeded Rider will play the fourth seed, Saint Francis-PA (5-14, 3-4 NEC) at 1:30. The NEC Title Game is scheduled for 12 noon Saturday.
Rider's semifinal foe, Saint Francis, just lost to the Broncs 2-0 on October 30. That was Rider's 23rd consecutive NEC regular season victory.
Rider enters the tournament on a 13-game winning streak, which ties the team record.
"Tournament play is about intensity," said Hussong. "The team that comes out on fire is the team that will advance. We are going to continue to prepare and get ready and not take anything for granted."