St. Joseph High School senior Gianna Morganti knew duiring a visit last summer that Rider University was where she wanted to continue her field hockey career and education.

Morganti has committed to Rider, an NCAA Division I school in Lawrenceville, Mercer County, and will play next year for the Broncs.

The 18-year-old will receive a partial scholarship that’s both athletic and academic.

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“The three main reasons are that I really loved the coaches, I fell in love with the campus, and I also have two friends (Kaitlyn Flemming and Jade Freeberg) from my club team (the South Jersey Edge) who play for Rider,” said Morganti, of Winslow Township. “I also liked the area. It was comfortable and not too big. It was my fit.”

This season, Rider is 6-6 (1-1 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) heading into Friday’s game at Siena College.

Lori Hussong is in her 18th season as Rider’s coach and has a 236-115 record. She entered this season in the top 10 nationally among active Division I coaches with a .678 winning percentage.

This week, Flemming, a freshman who has scored five goals, was chosen the MAAC Rookie of the Week for the second time. Freeberg, a sophomore, has scored one goal.

Morganti, a scorer and playmaker, expects to play forward for the Broncs.

She is undecided about her major.

“I watched the team play this summer, and I can’t wait to be on the field with them,” Morganti said. “I’m really excited to be playing Division I field hockey. It’s my dream, and I’ve been working for it.”

Morganti, a four-year starter for St. Joseph, was an immediate hit for the Wildcats as a freshman in 2014 and was named a second-team Press All-Star. She scored 40 goals as a sophomore and had 24 goals and 10 assists as a junior in 2016. She was a first-team Press All-Star both years.

“Now I get to concentrate on our season at St. Joseph,” Morganti said. There’s nothing about college to worry about.”

St. Joseph is 9-3-1 (7-0-1 Cape-Atlantic League National Conference). St. Joe, which tied Middle Township for the National title last year, is closing in on its eighth straight conference championship.

Morganti has 17 goals and six assists to lead the Wildcats.

“She’s an awesome kid,” St. Joseph’s first-year coach KatieLynn Burke said. “She’s definitely a powerhouse on the forward line, and she’s a strong leader with a lot of experience. We’re definitely going to miss her (next) year, but Rider is lucky to have her. She’s a center-forward, but she’s versatile and can play on the left or right side.”

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I’ve been at The Press since January of 1983. I cover all sports in general, but mostly lifeguard racing, and high school field hockey, football, swimming, basketball, crew, baseball and softball.

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