Thursday, November 17, 2011
After closing the book on what might have well been the finest season in the history of Rider field hockey, the Broncs can hang their hats on a third-consecutive Northeast Conference championship, even after dropping a heartbreaking 1-0 decision to Princeton University in double overtime in the NCAA Play-In game on November 8.
Rider ended the season with a program-record 19 wins, as the Broncs set team records for goals, assists and points. Before the defeat to Princeton, Rider’s only other loss this season was at Hofstra on September 11. The Broncs entered the Play-In game with a 15-game winning streak and was second in the nation in winning percentage.
“This is a really special team,” said head coach Lori Hussong, recently named the NEC Coach of the Year, about her 2011 squad. “We returned a lot of veterans but graduated pretty much our whole defense, but they stepped up and got stronger as the year went on. We knew the offense was going to be good but the defensive effort this season can’t be overlooked.”
Champions of the NEC for the third year in a row, Rider will return 15 letter-winners to the 2012 squad. This year’s senior class finishes with the most wins of any four-year period in Rider field hockey history, compiling 65 victories in 80 games
“You can’t overlook the effort of our six seniors and what they have done for Rider University and the field hockey program,” said Hussong. “We are appreciative of their effort and the commitment in making this a successful season. This team will go down as one of the best, if not the best team in Rider field hockey history.”
Hussong was not the only one from the team to earn honors from the conference. For the third year in a row, Virginia Egusquiza ’12, of Getxo, Spain, was named the Northeast Conference Player of the Year, while her countryman, Sandra Penas ’14 of Barcelona, took home the NEC Offensive Player of the Year award.
Egusquiza, a 5-4 midfielder/forward, is Rider’s 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.
A four-time NEC first-team selection and the 2008 NEC Rookie of the Year, Egusquiza led the NEC in points and assists and was second in goals to her teammate, Penas.
“Virginia is so deserving of this award,” said Hussong. “It is a great way for her to cap her career at Rider. The fact that the other teams in attendance (at the conference awards banquet) gave her a standing ovation says so much about the type of person that she is and how respected she is around the conference.”
Egusquiza is the first player in NEC history to win the Player of the Year award in three straight seasons.
Penas, the 2010 NEC Rookie of the Year, led the NEC with 20 goals, and ranks 11th nationally. This is the second season in a row that Penas earned first-team NEC recognition.
Also recognized by the NEC with second-team honors were Alicia Govannicci ’14 of Springfield, Pa., and Marlaine Schneider ’13 of Feasterville, Pa.
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 also credited goalkeeper Rebecca Lotito ’12, of Oceanport, N.J., whose play throughout the season was outstanding.
“Tito, as a goalkeeper, has really gone under the radar,” Hussong said after the loss to Princeton. “We knew she had to come up big for us today to keep us in the game and she did. She was phenomenal and came up with big play after big play.”