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Onto the NCAA’s: women’s soccer takes the CAA

By Joe Pantorno (Editor-in-Chief) It might not have been the cleanest of contact, but it was golden nonetheless. With seven minutes left in the second period of extra time, sophomore striker Sam Scolarici sent the Hofstra women’s soccer team to the NCAA Tournament by winning the Pride its third ever CAA Championship, 2-1 over UNC-Wilmington. “It’s fantastic, I’m ecstatic about it,” said head coach Simon Riddiough. “At the beginning of the season, this was our goal, but it was a lofty goal and to achieve it in the manner that we did was awesome.” The sophomore, who has been one of many heroes all season, received a through ball at the top of the box and while moving right, shot with her right foot towards the far post. It rolled just out of the reach of UNC-W keeper Caitlin Hunter and into the net. “We were just ultra-excited,” said Riddiough.  “We were almost in disbelief, but there was a lot of relief when Sam’s shot went in.” Hofstra will face Boston College in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the same team that knocked the Pride out of the Tournament two years ago in the second round after the Pride defeated UConn 1-0. Hofstra, who had advanced to the CAA Finals with a pair of shootout wins, kept the dramatics at high levels on Sunday afternoon, but was off to a flying start after six minutes. Freshman standout Leah Galton, who terrorized the wings all game, made her way down the left side and sent in a low cross that found the foot of sophomore Lulu Echeverry who had a simple tap in to give Hofstra an early lead. “We know Leah is a good player…she’s a program changer for us,” said Riddiough. “We didn’t know what to expect from Lulu this year and she’s been tremendous. She has a passion and energy in all different roles.” With their backs against the wall, UNC-W began pouring on the pressure, trying to get the CAA’s leading scorer Stephanie Rose into the game, but the Hofstra defense had a knack for the chance saving challenge in front of Emily Morphitis’ goal. The Pride’s goalkeeper had been its hero all tournament, making some vital saves, including the game winning stop in penalties against no. 1 seeded William & Mary in the semi-finals as she was on her way to claim the CAA’s Top Performer of the Tournament award. “We stuck with her. Sometimes you live by that sword, sometimes you die by that sword,” said Riddiough. “The last three games she has stepped up and made the difference…Emily was our biggest factor.” Eight minutes from halftime however, with UNC-W trying to penetrate the Hofstra defense, Tara Kerns took down Maddie McCormick at the edge of the box. The official called a penalty, despite it appearing that Kerns won the ball before making contact with McCormick. “It wasn’t even close to a penalty,” said Riddiough. “That’s a legal tackle in anybody’s book, but it’s a judgment call…and down in Virginia, some of those judgment calls can be a little, judgmental.” Rose stepped up and beat Morphitis to tie the game at one going into halftime. While the second half provided no goals, it was not short of chances. UNC-W had a chance with McCormick in on goal. As Morphitis rushed out to cut the angle, the forward tried to chip a shot over her, but hit the crossbar. Hofstra’s best chance came when freshman midfielder Jill Mulholland weaved her way into the penalty area, shedding three defenders to create an open shot, but just beyond the right post. “[These close games] were extremely stressful,” said Riddiough. “But we did a fantastic job of bending, but not breaking.”

Public Safety Briefs, 11-8-12

Volleyball heating up down the stretch