By Joe Pantorno, Sports Editor
Junior midfielder Micaela Gallagher recorded a hat trick as the Hofstra University field hockey team took down previously unbeaten Rider, 5-2, on a rainy Sunday afternoon in Hempstead.
"I thought we played fantastic especially in the second half," said head coach Kathy De Angelis.
An early goal from junior forward Krizia Lane was waved off for hitting her leg before going in the net, but Hofstra proved to be the aggressor of the game's first ten minutes.
Senior goalkeeper Amanda Heyde was called into action a few times early, but had no problem cleaning up the messes in front of her goal with some no-nonsense play.
Hofstra was awarded a penalty stroke with 10:31 gone in the half when Rider senior goalkeeper Rebecca Lotito smothered the ball with her body, but senior midfielder Arielle Williams was not able to capitalize when Lotito made up for her error by making an impressive diving save.
The Pride finally broke through just two minutes later after a weaving run and an impressive pass from Kovar found Gallagher who fired a low shot past Lotito.
"I just ripped it at the cage and at the goalie and it went it," said Gallagher.
Chances came and went for both sides with Rider not being able to take advantage of three penalty corners in two minute and Lane missing a wide open net for Hofstra, pulling her shot just wide.
Rider began to monopolize possession in the last 15 minutes with Hofstra getting chances through the counter attack as its defense was able to defend the final ball to keep a lot of pressure of Heyde.
Gallagher was in the middle of Hofstra's second goal of the game when her shot was saved nicely by Lotito, but the rebound fell right to Lane who got finally slotted her seventh goal of the season with 6:17 remaining in the first half.
Rider got its goal after a long spell of possession when sophomore forward Sandra Penas cracked a brilliant back handed chip shot into the top right corner of the net with 12.8 seconds remaining to cut Hofstra's deficit in half going into halftime.
"It was just unfortunate in the last few minutes of play that we let down," said De Angelis. "That's something we still need to work on."
Some end to end action to begin the second half proved no successes for either team as Hofstra tried to establish a physical presence to the dismay of the referees.
A beautiful series of passes opened up a great chance for Kovar with 11 minutes gone in the second, but Lotito was up for the challenge making another diving save, keeping Rider in the game.
On Rider's tenth penalty corner of the game, Heyde seemed to have been beaten but some great last ditch defending by Williams cleared the ball off the line, batting it out of mid-air around the waist area and sending the Hofstra back on attack.
Williams was at it again on Hofstra's seventh penalty corner when she provided the helper to Amy-Lee Levy's deflection goal to put the Pride up 3-1 with 19:05 remaining in the half.
"Arielle had a great game today," said De Angelis. "That versatility is very important to us."
Rider pulled one back five minutes later when senior midfielder Virginia Egusquiza finally took advantage of a penalty corner, its eleventh of the game when her shot hit a player and flew into the top of the net.
The Broncs kept pushing, unleashing a barrage of penalty corners, three in 30 seconds, on the Pride, but Hofstra was able to hold the lead.
"It gave us a good practice round and we've struggled early this season to defend some penalty corners," said De Angelis. "It was really nice to see our defense step up today to so many attack corners."
Tension was building as the time was ticking down with Hofstra holding the slender one goal lead as both teams were having a difficult time keeping possession of the ball.
Hofstra found a way to double its lead when Lane won a penalty corner and Levey scored her second of the match to the relief of De Angelis with 3:20 remaining.
Gallagher got her third goal when a shot from Kovar fell right to her where she finished into an empty net.
"It's pretty nice," said Gallagher. "It's my first collegiate hat trick but I'm really happy about it and I'm sure my parents are happy about it too."
"It's exciting first of all when anyone gets a hat trick," said De Angelis. "They were great goals, well deserved, she has tremendous scoring ability and it's great that she came to fruition today.
Hofstra improves to 4-4 while Rider suffers its first loss of the season, dropping to 4-1. The Pride is next in action on Wednesday when it hosts Columbia at 4 p.m.