By Sean Williams - SPORTS EDITOR
Hofstra field hockey continued its hot streak this week, winning three games over a frenzied five-day stretch that included an overtime home opener and back-to-back contests at the Catamount Classic in Vermont. The victories push the Pride’s streak to six games, with the team winning every game since stumbling against 12th ranked Albany in their season opener.
The first game of the week was Hofstra’s Wednesday afternoon home opener against local rival Fairfield University. The Stags always provide a tough fight and this year was no different, with Hofstra ultimately battling for a tense 2-1 overtime win. The Pride controlled the first half with deliberate offensive pressure and a stout defense, outshooting Fairfield 8-2. The home team took the lead in the first half off of an elaborate penalty corner, with Simca Schoen assisting Charlotte Loehr’s goal. Schoen, a freshman, is the younger sister of sophomore and teammate Stella Schoen. She has become a valuable part of the Hofstra defense and has added to Hofstra’s attack as an intelligent passer.
“[Simca Schoen and Charlotte Loehr] have really good execution, and we’ve been seeing that in practice, so there’s no question in my mind that they can execute under pressure,” head coach Kathy De Angelis said. “Fairfield has a very strong defensive corner, which shows how much credit is due to both players and how they’ve been working on their specialty situations.”
The second half was a mirror image of the first, with Fairfield applying consistent attacking threats. It was only through alert penalty corner defense that the Pride escaped with allowing one goal. With the score tied 1-1, Hofstra’s first home game was headed to overtime.
Overtime featured a seven-on-seven battle, which is less than the normal amount of 11 players that a team usually has on the field. As a result, the game became more fast-paced and dynamic, with a higher likelihood of goals scored. Hofstra managed to survive the first minute and a half while down a player, as Simca Schoen had picked up a green penalty card. The Pride responded with Jonel Boileau’s goal (assisted by the seemingly ubiquitous and younger Schoen) four minutes into overtime.
“I thought our first half was better than our second half, however I thought our overtime made up for that,” said De Angelis. “For us to come back in the third period of play and to finish under pressure is really exciting.”
The Stags topped Hofstra in last year’s matchup and beating them this year is an encouraging sign for a very young Pride team that has clearly improved tremendously over the 2013 squad.
“I’ve been really happy that we’ve been able to play on the road and win on the road,” De Angelis said in a postgame interview. “Now we got our first win at home and there was a little bit of excitement and jitters, but if we can use that type of inspiration that we used for today’s home game and take that on the road I think we’ll have a nice weekend.”
The Pride had two days of rest before playing the University of Vermont in the Catamount Classic. Surprisingly cold weather may have been the biggest obstacle for Hofstra, who had no problem beating UVM 4-0. Sophomore Claudia Marin Semper paced the Pride with two goals, with Boileau and Loehr each contributing a goal apiece.
The next day featured a closer competition against the University of Maine. The Black Bears visited Hofstra last year and beat the Pride in a 5-2 game that never came close. But now senior Jonel Boileau and the rest of the team had their revenge with a narrow 2-1 win, with Boileau scoring her fifth tiebreaking goal of the season.
Maine jumped out to the early 1-0 lead, but it didn’t take long for Hofstra to respond, as Marin Samper scored to tie the game in the 29th minute of the first half. The game remained deadlocked and competitive, with Maine taking 13 shots to Hofstra’s 12 and freshman goalie Carys Swan making eight saves for the Pride. Boileau’s goal, assisted by Marin Samper, came in the 48th minute. Marin Samper would be named the tournament’s most valuable player.
The Pride’s success is an encouraging sign, as the team continues to improve each week. Hofstra has been the winner in all four of its close games, and Albany’s win over No. 8 Stanford on Sunday implies that the Pride had been facing a top 10 competitor when they opened the year.
One point of concern for the Pride could be the collective difficulty of their opponents, who combine for a middling 14-21 record, excluding the contests against Hofstra. Nobody, however, can argue with the final score, and right now Hofstra is looking like a formidable team come conference play.
“It’s a great start,” Boileau said. “Last year we had a couple of disappointing results, and I think that we lost a couple of games that maybe we shouldn’t have lost.”
The Pride will hit the road again this weekend, taking on a 2-4 University of Massachusetts. Lowell team this Friday before playing the 1-5 New Hampshire Wildcats on Sunday.