They split their last two postseason meetings with each game decided by a late goal. On Saturday, Garden State rivals Rider and Monmouth will clash in the NEC Field Hockey Tournament for the third consecutive year. Like last year, this one will be for all of the marbles – a NEC title and a ticket to visit the Ivy League winner in a NCAA Tournament Play-in match on Tuesday, November 8. No. 2 seed Monmouth outlasted No. 3 seed Quinnipiac in the first of two semifinal contests on Friday at Ben Cohen Field on the campus of Rider. Then, the top-seeded Broncs followed by downing No. 4 seed Saint Francis (PA), 2-0, to set up Saturday’s Garden State grudge match. Monmouth and Rider will face off at 12:00 pm in a game that can be seen live on NortheastConference.TV.
#2 Monmouth 1, #3 Quinnipiac 0
Monmouth’s Trish O’Dwyer (Dublin, Ireland) was red-hot during the regular season stretch run and that didn’t change in Friday’s NEC Field Hockey Championship semifinal round played at Ben Cohen Field on the campus of Rider University.
Quinnipiac held the Hawks’ attack at bay for much of the day, but could not cool down Monmouth’s all-NEC first team forward who entered having scored five goals in her last three regular season contests.
O’Dwyer stuffed home a loose ball 1:08 into the second half for the game’s lone goal. No. 2 seed Monmouth’s 1-0 victory over No. 3 Quinnipiac, means the Hawks will advance to the NEC Championship Game for the third consecutive year.
O’Dwyer and fellow all-NEC forward Michelle Pieczynski (Doylestown, PA/Central Bucks West) had three shots on goal apiece for the Hawks who out-shot Quinnipiac, 16-12.
The teams were even in penalty corners, each drawing 11.
The Bobcats certainly had their chances, especially in the late minutes of contest.
Amanda Danzinger (Smithtown, NY/Smithtown East) fired back-to-back shots in the 67th minute but Monmouth goalkeeper Teresa Matthews (Lumberton, NJ/Rancocas Valley) was up to the task, saving both.
Quinnipiac drew two more penalty corners in the ensuing three minutes of play, but could find the equalizer. Matthews turned aside a shot by NEC Defensive Player of the Year Kim Cunniff (Walpole, MA/Walpole).
The Hawks’ keeper received some help from all-NEC selection Nicole Manziano (Monroe Twp., NJ/Monroe) earlier in the second half when she made her nation-leading 12th defensive save of the season in the 52nd minute.
Freshman forward Danielle Allan (Riverdale, NJ/Pompton Lakes) and senior Kaitlyn Notarianni (Clarks Summit, PA/Abington Heights) each fired a team-high three shots apiece for the Bobcats who fell in the NEC Tournament semifinal round for the fourth consecutive season.
#1 Rider 2, #4 Saint Francis (PA) 0
The Red Flash had two pieces of history against them heading into Friday’s NEC Field Hockey Tournament semifinal match. Saint Francis (PA) had never before beaten Rider, and the top-seeded Broncs, who are hosting the four-team postseason event for the third straight year, were undefeated all-time in 16 games at 14-month old Ben Cohen Field.
History wound up repeating itself in what was the second of two semifinal matches held on Rider’s campus Friday. The top-seeded Broncs blanked the No. 4 Red Flash, 2-0. The win means Rider will head to the NEC Championship Game for the 10th time in 12 seasons.
The Broncs will face a familiar postseason opponent in Saturday’s title tilt. For the third year in a row, they will clash with Garden State rival Monmouth in NEC Tournament play.
Freshman Eefje Kok (Berkel Enschot, Netherlands) put Rider (18-1) on the board 9:48 into the game, taking a cross from sophomore Sandra Penas (Barcelona, Spain), the NEC Offensive Player of the Year, for her ninth of the season to give the Broncs a 1-0 lead.
Senior Megan Pisani (Plainsboro, NJ/WWP North) tipped in a pass from senior Virginia Egusquiza (Getxo, Spain) for her 14th goal of the season, and 51st of her Bronc career, to give Rider insurance with fewer than 13:00 remaining.
Senior goalie Rebecca Lotito (Oceanport, NJ/Shore Regional) did not have to make a save as Rider out-shot the Red Flash 27-2 and held a 15-2 penalty corner advantage.
The Broncs are 14-0 all-time against the Red Flash who made a great deal of progress this season. They matched the single-season program record for wins and ended a three-year NEC Tournament drought.