By David Rogers. September 7, 2014. BOONE, NC — Put enough constant pressure on your opponent's defense in whatever sport and they are likely to make errors — and you will win. Rider College did just that on Sunday afternoon, taking 16 shots on Appalachian State's goal before coming away with a well-deserved, 3-1 win.
That Rider is a private college with a little more than 4,500 students in suburban Trenton, NJ doesn't mean the Broncs don't have a blue collar work ethic when it comes to playing field hockey. Appalachian State goalkeeper Cristina Ceppi was kept as busy as a one-armed wallpaper hanger, recording 7 saves while 6 Rider shots were simply wide, but the 3 Bronc goals that found the backboards at the back of the Mountaineer net were too much for the tenants of Adcock Field to overcome.
There were some great Mountaineer moments, such as when senior forward Jordyn Warren (Allentown, PA) fielded a ball in the center, just inside the shooting circle and instinctively whirled and slapped the ball into the net past a surprised Rider goalie. Interviewed by Blowing Rock News afterwards, Warren admitted that she really didn't remember much about the play. It all happened very quickly, she said, and it was just one of those instinctive decisions that veteran athletes learn to make in those kinds of situations.
Unfortunately, those moments were all too few, at least on this day for the Mountaineers. Partly that was because of the outstanding defensive (and offensive) pressure applied by the Broncs, and partly because AppState players seemed slow to recognize opportunities, holding onto the ball too long before trying to pass or simply failing to see open teammates in better positions to advance the ball — or failing to see teammates with potentially open shots at Rider's goal.
As with most team sports, the mission is to attack space — leading to advancing the ball or scoring a goal. Where there is no space to attack, through teamwork — including movement away from the ball and sharp passing — you generally have to create space. Kudos to Rider for understanding how to do that and exploit Mountaineer vulnerabilities.
Rider goals were scored by three different players, the first coming from diminutive freshman midfielder/forward Allison Baligian in the 16th minute. Warren tied things up for AppState just 7 minutes into the second half, but the Broncs' sophomore forward Carlie Spaeder made short work of the tie, finding the backboards in the 46th minute. Then in the 58th minute, sophomore midfielder Melissa Cunningham put the game out of reach with yet another Bronc goal.
AppState seemed to pick up their effort in the waning minutes, but each attack was turned back by the Rider players, who undoubtedly enjoyed their bus ride home.
Appalachian State returns to Adcock Field and the Appalachian Field Hockey Stadium on Friday to face James Madison, with the start of play slated for 3:00 pm.
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