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Victories give women's soccer third seed in CAA tourney

By Jeffrey Werner and Marco Meglio - STAFF WRITERS Chris Owens/The Chronicle On senior day, junior Leah Galton was the one to shine, notching a hat trick in the regular season finale for the Pride. The Hofstra women’s soccer team ended the 2014 regular season with a high note, winning five out of their last six games. The last two matches ended well with back-to-back wins for the Pride. Leah Galton sparked the Hofstra offense over the weekend scoring four of the six goals in the two matchups. The Pride defeated Drexel University by a score of 2-1 and the University of Delaware by a score of 4-2.

“We’re playing with a lot of confidence and heart right now and it could not come at a better time,” said head coach Simon Riddiough.

Hofstra finished the season at 11-6-1 overall, and 6-2-1 in Colonial Athletic Association conference. The Pride clinched the third-place seed in the CAA tournament with their conference record, granting the team home-field advantage in the first round. Hofstra has performed at home this season, winning four of their last five games at the Hofstra Soccer Stadium.

The Pride honored their seniors this past Sunday on the last regular season game by handing out plaques and celebrating the pregame ceremony with their parents. Senior Sam Scolarici received a roaring applause when her name was called, signifying her successful career with Hofstra. Scolarici holds the all-time record in both points and goals scored. Other seniors such as Ingrid Moyer, Amber Stobbs, Lulu Echeverry, Erin Havard and Melissa Kress were also mentioned during the pregame ceremonies.

Leah Galton and Sam Scolarici led the team on the field. Galton was the catalyst for the Pride, scoring three of the four goals.

The Pride took an early 1-0 lead over the Fightin’ Blue Hens courtesy of Leah Galton. She soared up over the defense and headed the ball into the back of the net. The Pride defense performed well in the first half, allowing only one shot. Goalkeeper Kriederike Mehring managed to put up five saves on the day.

The Hofstra offense exploded in the second half with three goals on 11 shots. Galton continued her stellar performance by adding another early second half goal.

When asked about Galton’s performance postgame, head Coach Simon Riddiough said, “She’s at a different level… she makes me look good as a coach.”

The Fightin’ Blue Hens could not contain Galton as she constantly weaved her way through the defense and continued to be a major scoring threat. Delaware answered back with a goal of their own in the 69th minute but that did not stop the Pride.

Hofstra retaliated two minutes later with senior star forward Sam Scolarici shooting a goal to extend the Pride’s lead to 3-1. Leah Galton would strike with the final dagger, netting her third of the game, insuring Hofstra’s lead at 4-1. Delaware cut the lead from 4-1 to 4-2 within the last two minutes of the game but the Pride secured the victory as the clock hit zero.

On Friday’s game against the Drexel Dragons, Leah Galton supplied Hofstra’s victory over Drexel, assisting on the first goal and scoring the second.

Once the game was underway, Drexel missed a crucial opportunity to strike first. The Dragons offense managed to break away from the defense, forcing sophomore goalie Friederike Mehring to leave an open net to play defense. The Drexel forward managed to beat Mehring and attempted to score but the shot missed wide.

“In that situation, she was slightly off-time, and the kid went right around her,” said Riddiough. “However, she managed to put enough pressure to force the forward to miss.”

After the missed shot, both teams stood 0-0 until the Pride took advantage of a scoring opportunity in the 28th minute of the first half. Galton crossed the ball to middle of the penalty box, then senior midfielder and forward Lulu Echeverry headed the ball into the back of the net for the first goal of the game.

Hofstra’s offense controlled the game by outshooting Drexel 11-4 in the first half, as well as 19 on the night. The pressure from the Pride offense forced the Dragons to compete at a higher level.

Drexel tried to play aggressively in order to keep up, but it backfired, leading to six fouls in the first period. One of those fouls resulted in a yellow card after Echeverry’s goal. Drexel’s forceful play continued to cause issues in the second half, leading to nine extra fouls and two more yellow cards.

“They are a physical team,” said Coach Riddiough. “The physicality was up there. If you don’t come ready to battle and deal with it, they are going to run all over you. We were able to deal with and come away with a crucial win.”

Eight minutes into the second half, the Pride were able to extend their lead to 2-0. Junior midfielder and forward Jeannine Molleda centered a corner kick to Galton who headed the ball into back right corner of the goal.

Drexel responded quickly after and cut the lead to one goal. Drexel forward Megan Hammaker shot the ball from outside the penalty box into the high right corner.

The Dragons continued to put pressure on the Hofstra defense, forcing them to be on their toes and protect their goal while at the same time try to score an insurance goal. Hofstra did however, come out victorious.

The Pride will take on Towson University next week to start the quarterfinal rounds of the CAA tournament.

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