Tuesday, November 8, 2011
The Rider University field hockey team, the 2011 champion of the Northeast Conference, will take an eight mile trip up Rt. 206 to face Mercer County rival Princeton University, the 2011 Ivy League champion with the winner advancing to the NCAA Field Hockey Championship Tournament this coming weekend.
The All-Mercer County battle will take place Tuesday at 1 p.m. at Princeton's Class of '52 stadium.
Rider (19-1) enters play on a 15-game winning streak and the Broncs are led by senior Virginia Egusquiza (Getxo, Spain), a three-time NEC Player of the Year and four-time NEC First Team selection who has 50 points (16g, 18a) this season. Egusquiza earned NEC All-Tournament honors and was the 2011 NEC Championship Tournament MVP as the Broncs defeated Monmouth 2-1 in the title game on November 5.
Egusquiza enters play seventh in the nation in assists per game, 10th in points per game and 25th in goals per game.
The Bronc offense is also paced by sophomore Sandra Penas (Barcelona, Spain) who has a team-leading 20 goals and junior Marlaine Schneider (Feasterville, Pa./Neshaminy) who has 16 goals and 17 assists on the season. Schneider scored the eventual game-winning goal in the NEC finals against Monmouth.
Penas is 10th nationally in goals and 11th in assists per game with Schneider seventh in the nation in points, eighth in assists and 21st in goals per game.
Schneider led the Northeast Conference in points per game, Penas led the NEC in goals per game and Egusquiza led the NEC in assists per game.
Sporting one of the top defensive units in the nation, Rider is led in goal by senior Rebecca Lotito (Oceanport/Shore Regional) who is 19-1 on the season with a goals against average of 0.72. The Broncs enter play having allowed only 17 goals on the season.
Lotito is third in the nation in goals against average and fifth in save percentage and led the NEC in both categories.
Also anchoring the back line is senior Natasha Tukeva (Easton, Pa./Freedom) who enters play 13th in the nation with five defensive saves.
Penas, Schneider and Tukeva were named to the NEC All-Tournament team this past weekend.
As a team, Rider is among the best, leading the nation in scoring average, goals per game, scoring margin, shutouts and penalty corners. The Broncs are second nationally in points per game and winning percentage and third in goals against average, sixth in assists per game and seventh in save percentage.
Rider is coached by Lori Hussong, who has compiled a record of 169-70 (.707) in 12 seasons. The Broncs have won NEC regular season titles under Hussong in 2001, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2010 and 2011 and Rider was NEC tournament champions in 2000, 2002, 2004, 2010 and 2011.
This is the fifth time (and second year in a row) that Rider has advanced to the NCAA Play-In game.
The winner of the NCAA play-in will advance to the 16-team NCAA Field Hockey Championship tournament with first round games on Friday, November 11. Rider (NEC) at Princeton (Ivy) is one of three play-in games taking place Tuesday. The others are Lafayette (Patriot) at Ohio (MAC) and Richmond (A-10) at California (NorPac).
The three winners will join New Hampshire (America East), North Carolina (ACC), Old Dominion (CAA), Penn State (Big 10) and Syracuse (Big EAST) as the eight qualifiers for the tournament with the final eight at-large teams revealed on the NCAA selection show on Tuesday, November 8 at 8pm live on NCAA.com.
Rider and Princeton last met on September 13, 1994 when the Tigers posted a 3-1 win. Princeton has won eight of the 10 games (one tie) in the all-time series. The Broncs last defeated the Tigers on October 27, 1992 by a 2-1 score.
Rider is offering a free shuttle to the game however space is limited. The shuttle will leave from Alumni Gym at noon and 12:30p and return immediately following the game.
Tickets are $6.00 for adults and $3.00 for Rider students and are available at the gate for purchase.