It’s the little things in life that really matter. The proverbial adage might seem clich?e, but just ask the Raider field hockey team and the women will probably agree with you. In their first and last game on grass this season, the Raiders were slowed down in a few ways, as they suffered their first defeat of the year against Rider, 4-1, at Campus Field in Lawrenceville, NJ. With the loss, the Raiders extended their losing streak against Rider to three.
Unlike the season-opener, where the Raider defense stabilized and even strengthened as the game progressed, the floodgates on Saturday were open early and often for the Bronco offense. A mere six minutes into the game, Rider was able to open up a 1-0 lead on a goal by Stephanie Walker. Yielding an early goal hasn’t been new territory for the Raiders; however, not being able to respond with a score of their own is. But sophomore forward Lauren Remkus doesn’t believe the lack of offense is anything to worry about.
“It wasn’t so much that they had a strong defense, but they had girls who could hit the ball down the field,” Remkus said. “Our forwards and midfielders would block out on our free hits, [thus allowing] one of our players to hit the ball through the Rider defense, but in doing so, it became hard for someone to run through and pick up the through balls. Most importantly, the small stuff we do on turf, like small passes between two of our players to eliminate their defense, didn’t work on grass.”
The Raiders did not obviously stand pat, but it was simply a case of adjusting to a new playing environment that hindered the Raiders from executing. According to head coach Cathy Foto, the biggest difference in the game was that, “We are used to moving the ball a certain way and we were not able to adjust to the changes needed on grass.”
Colgate had its fair share of opportunities – especially considering the nine penalty corners they attained in the first half – but could not cash in.
Junior goalie Jacque DeMarco, a notable stronghold of the Raider defense, could not stop Rider’s attack, either. The Broncos scored once more before halftime, taking a 2-0 lead into intermission. Foto thought the defensive breakdowns occurred because the team was “not ready to face a physical team like Rider.”
Where we have come to expect a Raider resurgence following halftime, it was the Broncos that turned up the intensity in the second half. Rider proceeded to outshoot the Raiders, 9-1, in the second half, and of those nine shots, two turned out to be goals. By the time first-year Lauren Flisnik scored her first career goal, it was too little too late for the visitors. At that point, the Raiders were already down by four goals and the game was obviously out of hand.
Despite attaining more penalty corners throughout the game, the Raiders were unable to convert when it mattered most. Remkus, however, did not believe that this was due to poor execution.
“Rider played a very aggressive, run all over the place kind of game,” she said. “They weren’t organized and often would just bash the ball down the field and have their forwards run on to it. This created breakaways, and they were able to score from them.”
Thus far into the season, the Raiders’ two games have been complete opposites of each other. Hopefully, the Raiders can find the right balance between strong defense and efficient offense in the team’s two games this week – over the weekend, the Raiders will take on familiar opponents in St. Francis and Colombia. Although discouraging, the Rider loss was only one fleeting defeat, one that can be easily overcome by, according to Remkus, “looking at our mistakes, learning from them and working hard in practice all week.
This is the beginning of a five-game, nine-day homestand for Colgate, which can set the Raiders on the right path before they begin the hardest part of their schedule.