By Kyle Kandetzki - ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR
Even on a campus with a mid-major sports program that isn’t as popular as many, there are names that even the most casual Hofstra Pride fan will know. From the very beginning of her career, Sam Scolarici made an impact, and now she’s putting herself in the record books.
Senior women’s soccer forward Sam Scolarici is entering the final month of her career at Hofstra, and she is ready to go out with a bang. With personal goals and records accomplished, she looks to bring her team back to the NCAA tournament this November.
While many kids have simple stories of how they began playing their sports, Scolarici’s first days kicking a soccer ball stem from her father losing a job, and filling that space to show her the sport. Her Argentinian father, who already had a love for the sport, spent the summer teaching her about the game and improving her skills.
It was quickly apparent to her – and most likely those who saw her play – that she had a future in the sport. Scolarici says that she began to realize her potential at around age 10 when she began to take part in playing on travel soccer teams.
After finishing her high school career at Freedom High in Virginia, it was time to find a collegiate program to join. At first, Scolarici didn’t consider Hofstra as a candidate, but decided to visit because one of her former teammate’s older sisters had played for the Pride.
A tour of the campus immediately gave Sam a positive impression. Not only was it a great place to pursue her major in broadcast journalism, but the soccer program itself seemed exciting.
“I said going in that if I was given an offer, I would take it,” said Scolarici about her thoughts before talking to the coaching staff.
Scolarici finished her visit with head coach Simon Riddiough and officially decided that she wanted to play for the Hofstra Pride. So she accepted Hofstra’s offer and began attending in the fall of 2011.
But reaching the point where she was the program’s premier athlete wasn’t easy, and she learned that in preparation for her first season. Sam learned about how the team played, and Riddiough’s team philosophy from the get-go.
“It was a bit of different adapting to the Hofstra Pride style of play at first,” said Scolarici. “Hofstra’s style is very direct, where defense is just as important as offense. Simon also shows that selflessness and working hard for each member of your team is important.”
But nevertheless, Sam says that her Pride career played out exactly as she dreamt it from the beginning, as she found herself in the starting lineup for her first game in her freshman year. Sam racked up five goals and two assists in her first season, an impressive first effort, but one that would pale in comparison to her other three years.
The memories and success quickly flowed in for Scolarici the following seasons, as her sophomore year squad took a conference title, leading to an NCAA Tournament appearance. Hofstra had a magical CAA Tourney run, going to double overtime in each of their three games in late 2012.
But it was none other than Sam who would score the walk-off score in the CAA Championship against UNC-Wilmington in the 103rd minute. She said that this was easily her best memory at Hofstra, but her individual accomplishments are not to be ignored in leading these winning squads.
Sam’s statistical success has only grown as the years went on. In her senior season, Sam captured the program’s overall goals record with 46, and points record with 101 so far. She also was an all-conference first team selection last year to pair with her ridiculous 18-goal effort.
“Breaking the single season goal record was something I was proud of,” said Scolarici. “You always strive to be the best, but I would easily trade that for more conference titles. Records don’t mean everything.”
Her statistical play has made a clear influence on the team as a whole, as the Pride soccer program has gone 40-29-6 since she became a member of the team. Head coach Riddiough has had nothing but praise for her in her career.
“She is awesome,” said Riddiough in a post-game intview, “When you’ve got someone who scores at will and leads the line with tenacity, it’s good leadership throughout [the team].”
As Scolarici wraps her final season this November, she is upset to look towards a life without Pride soccer in it. She says that she would love to play professionally in the US, and possibly overseas. But soccer or not, Sam, a member of WRHU, is excited to pursue her dream of holding a broadcast job in New York City.