NEC Championship Highlights
Lawrenceville, NJ – In a rematch of last year’s Northeast Conference title game, it was the same result for a pair of Garden State foes. Rider scored once in the first half and later added a second with 14 minutes to play to defeat Monmouth, 2-1, for the second straight year and capture the NEC Field Hockey Championship Title for the fifth time in the past 12 years Saturday afternoon at Ben Cohen Field.
Rider will now face Ivy League Champion Princeton this Tuesday in the NCAA Play-In Game in Princeton, NJ.
Freshman Eefje Kok (Berkel Enschot, Netherlands/Luzac College Breda) and junior Marlaine Schneider (Feasterville, PA/Neshaminy) both scored for the Broncs, who won their 15th straight game and improved to 19-1 on the season. RU has not lost since mid-September, when Hofstra pinned a 5-2 setback on the Broncs in Hempstead, NY.
"This was a tremendous game on the part of both teams," said Rider head coach Lori Hussong, who has led the Broncs to the NEC playoffs in 12 straight seasons and has a 169-70 record (.707). "We did a good job neutralizing Monmouth's offense and our defense really came up big."
Monmouth, which ended its season with a school-record 15 wins (15-6), solved the Rider defense late in the game, as sophomore Patricia O’Dwyer (Dublin, Ireland/Loreto Beaufor) scored her 16th goal of the season – and second of the weekend – to pull the Hawks within a goal at the 68:07 mark.
In the 31st meeting between the two teams, and third straight in the postseason, Rider quickly went on the offensive, outshooting the Hawks 10-3 and taking advantage of five corner attempts compared to MU’s one in the first half. A stout defensive effort by Monmouth coupled with six of sophomore Teresa Mathews’ (Lumberton, NJ/Rancocas Valley) game-high 10 saves kept the Broncs off the scoreboard until senior Virginia Egusquiza (Getxo, Spain/ies Julio Caro Baroja) started a rush that would break the deadlock in the 24th minute.
Driving the ball into MU territory, the reigning NEC Offensive Player of the Year tested Mathews from just outside the circle. The second-year netmider made the save, but the rebound bounced out to junior Jackie Adams (Medford Lakes, NJ/Shawnee), who then passed it back to Kok at the left point. Kok settled the ball and unleashed a rising shot that found its way to the top right corner of the cage for the score with 11:52 to play in the half.
The score would remain the same until later in the second half, when Schneider rocketed a shot from the right side of the circle off the MU goalkeeper and into the cage to make it a 2-0 game.
Monmouth responded to the goal with one of its own with less than two minutes to play. Junior Michelle Pieczynski (Doylestown, PA/Central Bucks West) found O’Dwyer for a quick tap-in after the duo developed a 2-on-1 opportunity following a scrum in the midfield.
In an effort to the tie game, the Hawks pulled their goalkeeper in favor of an extra player. But Rider gained possession after a turnover on a clearing attempt and ran out the clock, sealing the title.
Rider outshot Monmouth in the second stanza to finish the game with a 21-8 advantage in shots. The Broncs also upped their penalty corner total to 10-4 for the game. RU’s senior Rebecca Lotito (Oceanport, NJ/Shore Regional) finished the game with two saves and one goal surrendered.
2011 NEC All-Tournament Team
Monmouth – Alex Carroll, So., D, Oceanport, NJ/Shore Regional
Monmouth – Morganne Firmstone, Gr., M, Honesdale, PA/Honesdale
Monmouth – Patricia O’Dwyer, So., F, Dublin, Ireland/Loreto Beaufort
Quinnipiac – Kimberly Cunniff, Sr., D, Walpole, MA/Walpole
Quinnipiac - Nicole Lewis, Sr., GK, East Amherst, NY/Williamsville North
Rider – Virginia Egusquiza, Sr., M/F, Getxo, Spain/ies Julio Caro Baroja (Tournament MVP)
Rider – Sandra Penas, So., F, Barcelona, Spain/ies Joaquim Blume
Rider – Marlaine Schneider, Jr., F, Festerville, PA/Neshaminy
Rider – Natasha Tukeva, Sr., M/D, Easton, PA/Freedom
Saint Francis (PA) – Carissa Makea, Fr., F/M, Auckland, New Zealand/Rosehill College
Saint Francis (PA) – Kellie Mason, Jr., F/M, East Greenwich, RI/East Greenwich
2011 NEC Field Hockey Championship
Hosted by Rider University
Click Here For NEC Tournament Program (PDF)
Click Here For All-Conference Release
Click Here For Banquet Video/Photo Montage