Rider loses to Sacred Heart in penalty shootout

By Dylan Manfre

The biggest threat to the Rider field hockey team having an undefeated regular-season record was Sacred Heart’s star goalkeeper Hailey Power.

Power is one of the more renowned netminders in the Northeast Conference (NEC) with a .773 save percentage – an average of 2.12 goals allowed per game in her career – and is the defending NEC Goalkeeper of the Year. Her resume speaks for itself.

The last time these two teams met in November 2019, Power had 20 saves and faced 23 shots on goal.

On April 15, Rider put up 35 shots (17 were on goal) in its 1-0 loss in a double-overtime shootout and to Head Coach Lori Hussong’s dismay, the Broncs’ shot selection was suspect.

“Any time you shoot 35 times at the goal, something should go in,” said Hussong who called it “surprising” that nothing went in.

Sophomore goalkeeper Kaitlyn Tomas faced a shootout for the first time in her collegiate career and on the first attempt from Sacred Heart, controversy brewed.

Tomas dove for the ball on an attempt from Kayla Kruk. She knew if she moved, it would be called a trip and Kruk would be awarded a stroke. The umpire ruled in favor of Kruk who ended up scoring the go-ahead goal for Sacred Heart.

“I did contact the ball first and I did lay there,” Tomas said confidently. “I didn’t move my stick but [the umpire] thinks I hooked her foot. Of course I didn’t think the call was right.”

Rider sent five players of its best shooters in junior midfielder Tess van Ommeren, junior forward Carly Brosious, sophomore midfielder Sierra Giuliano and senior defenders Brittany Romanczuk and Kaitlyn Flemming up to shoot against Power — all missed.

During the game, one surprising miss was a clear one-on-one attempt from Divorra. What is normally a routine shot for her, went to the right side of the cage when she took the shot about 10 feet from the goal.

“Every shot that she shoots can’t go in,” Hussong said. “Generally, she’s able to put that ball in the back [of the goal].”

Brosious took 15 of the 35 shots and said Rider needed to be more dynamic in its approach to one of the league’s premier goalkeepers.

“We were working really hard, we were just struggling to get it in the goal,” Brosious said. “[Power] is just a great goalie. She always makes the game fun.”

Hussong was critical of the team’s shot selection on the day and thought the Broncs could have taken better looks at the goal.

“We needed to move the goalie before we shot the ball,” Hussong said. “We actually made her look really good and just shot straight at her and we waited a little bit too long for the perfect opportunity to put the ball in the goal instead of shooting right away.”

Rider will face another strong netminder in LIU’s Rachel Vellis in the NEC Championship game on April 22 at Ben Cohen Field at 4 p.m. Vellis lost 1-0 to the Broncs in the first meeting of the season for the two teams. LIU has won four straight games since then.

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