By Frank Aimetti - STAFF WRITER
Hofstra’s defense stood tall in wins over Binghamton University and Elon University, posting shutouts in both matches. The Pride’s victory over Binghamton marked coach Richard Nuttall’s 230th victory as coach of the Hofstra men’s soccer eam, while the victory over Elon gave Hofstra a win in their first CAA match of the season.
Playing just their second home game of the season, Hofstra’s match against Binghamton got off to a rocky start. Binghamton, despite not scoring for over 400 minutes entering the match, established pace quickly and went on the attack. The Hofstra backline seemed slightly disorganized to begin and Binghamton threatened early with a pass across the box that was just barely broken up in time.
As time went on however, the Hofstra attack found its rhythm and a Harri Hawkins header just barely missed its mark, clanging off the crossbar in the 12th minute. Goalkeeper Patric Pray made an impressive stop in the 17th minute, denying a header from an unmarked Binghamton player off of a corner kick.
The Pride’s attack seized control of the half from that point on, dominating time of possession but ultimately had trouble getting quality, direct shots on goal. Danny Elliott and Meshack Eshun Addy both missed near chances by going for one too many touches in the box, allowing Binghamton goalkeeper Robert Moewes to intercept their dribble.
The frustration was palpable as Elliott pounded the turf in disappointment after his missed chance. Binghamton, to their credit, did not fold, and continued to use the counterattack to get chances at Hofstra’s goal. Alex Varkatzas of Binghamton could only get a light touch on a pass into the box that really should have been converted into a goal. Going into the half, it seemed Hofstra had the upper hand but the Pride offense was struggling for a breakthrough.
The frustration continued in the second half as Hofstra continued pressing against the Binghamton defense. Hofstra’s Joseph Holland seemed to be orchestrating the offense with impressive set-up moves as well as strong shots on goal. Holland himself had a strong, low shot saved by Binghamton’s keeper and also helped set up a Nino Alfonso shot that was just barely saved.
Binghamton, always looking for chances to counterattack, nearly found their moment after a Hofstra corner kick, where they were able to get off on the break against a scrambling Pride defense. A few missed passes ensured that that Binghamton attack would lead to nothing but it made it extremely clear that the match was still up for grabs.
A free kick in the 81st minute turned out to be exactly what the Pride needed to score, however, as Daniel Grundei was able to capitalize off of the mayhem in the box and knock in a rebound for his third goal of the season and Hofstra’s first of the night.
Binghamton pushed the tempo to try to score an equalizer but the Hofstra defense, led by Grundei, held firm and allowed Hofstra to hold on for the 1-0 victory.
“[My] goal was the result of a great assist,” Grundei said of his score. “Additionally, I was a bit lucky to be in the right place at the right time.”
Going into their match against Elon, there had been some concern over the play of Maid Memic, who seemed to be struggling a bit getting set up for his normal finishing abilities without the assistance of his former partner in attack, Chris Griebsch, who graduated after last season. Coach Richard Nuttall didn’t seem overly concerned, citing a changing role and a slight, nagging hamstring injury.
“He’s got a slight hamstring strain and he’s at about 95 percent but he’ll keep going and he’ll get the goals,” Nuttall said of Memic. “We’re happy with him, overall.”
From the outset, Memic and the Pride attack seemed out to prove a point against Elon. Harkening back to the play many are used to seeing from him, Memic fired a laser beam shot from 15 yards out to beat the Elon goalkeeper, who entered the match with five shutouts. Despite only having tallied three shots on goal the entire match, the Pride made the best of their limited efforts, scoring on two of the three shots.
Danny Elliott scored an important goal in the 54th minute, increasing Hofstra’s lead to 2-0 and giving Hofstra’s stout defense some much-needed insurance.
Elon had two close chances in the final 10 minutes, but Patric Pray – who continued his good form as of late – thwarted both. Joseph Holland continued his strong play in the midfield recording his seventh assist on the Elliott goal and 11th point overall.
Despite the wins, the team attitude was focused on continued improvement.
“We still don’t play to our full potential going forward and finding open spaces,” Daniel Grundei said before stressing the need for improvement in his own game. “I have to become more consistent and minimize the amount of mistakes I am making during the game.”
The wins over Binghamton and Elon push Hofstra’s record to 5-3-2 overall and 1-0 in CAA play.