By Chris Buckley - Staff Writer
In 2013, the Hofstra Pride men’s soccer team did not lose in Hempstead until their regular season finale. On Sunday afternoon, the Pride dropped their 2014 home opener 2-1 in a non-conference matchup with the Dartmouth Big Green, to fall to 2-2-2 on the year.
In front of an enthusiastic and crowded Hofstra Soccer Stadium, the Pride stumbled out of the gate, falling behind 1-0 less than 15 minutes into the match. A series of miscues and breakdowns in Hofstra’s defensive backline allowed Dartmouth’s Alex Adelabu to get just enough space inside the opposing 18-yard box and get his team out to an early lead. Hofstra goalkeeper Patric Pray was out of position attempting to knock the ball toward the midfield, allowing Adelabu to make the acrobatic play with his back toward the Hofstra goal for his first points of the season.
The Pride found themselves in a bigger hole headed into the locker room, when Dartmouth substitute Robin Alnas’ 39th minute shot off a crossing pass found its way through nearby Hofstra defenders and past a diving Patric Pray.
Hofstra’s first half of soccer was defined by a lack of energy and urgency. Dartmouth’s ability to capitalize on the Pride’s lax approach got them out to the two-goal lead.
“It was an incredibly disappointing first half,” said Hofstra head coach Richard Nuttall.
“We let them settle at the back. They’re athletic and strong, and they were great in the air. I thought they were the much better team in the first half.”
The Pride displayed a noticeable increase in energy at the start of the second 45 minutes of play. Combined with Nuttall’s decision to replace Pray with backup goalkeeper Brian McPartland, giving him his collegiate debut, the Pride emerged looking motivated to win the match.
Hofstra’s Joseph Holland put the home team on the board in the 53rd minute. Fielding a give-and-go pass from Elliot Firth barely inside the 18-yard box, Holland crossed from right to left and used his left foot to bend a shot off the inside of Dartmouth’s left post and into the back of the net. It was the sophomore’s second straight match with a goal, giving him two goals and four assists on the young season.
For the remainder of the match, Hofstra was forced to play catch-up. The Big Green did everything possible to keep up their constant defensive pressure on both sides of the pitch. The Pride’s best chance at an equalizer came in the final 10 minutes, when Maid Memic narrowly missed a deflection with his left foot from inside Dartmouth’s goal box that sailed over the left corner of Stefan Cleveland’s net. Memic continues to deal with a nagging hamstring injury, the same ailment he dealt with at the start of the 2013 season.
Ultimately, Hofstra managed to outshoot the Big Green 8-4 in the second half, but to no avail. McPartland made two saves in net during his 45 minutes on the pitch for Hofstra, while seven different members of the Pride logged at least one shot on net in Dartmouth’s first win of the season.
“I thought we played with energy and more confidence in the second half,” said Nuttall after the loss.
“I think we took the game to them, and to be honest, I felt a draw would have been a fair result. I would have been worried if we didn’t switch our game up. The result is still unbelievably disappointing.”
With their two-game winning streak snapped, Hofstra will try to rebound this Friday night, when they take on the University of New Hampshire in another non-conference match. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. from Durham, NH.