By Kyle Kandetzki - Assistant Sports Editor
The Pride sent a message to the CAA in 2013 with a strong performance inside their conference, but fell just short of a title. In 2014, Hofstra is ready to return and take a conference title from their rivals.
Hofstra women’s soccer is coming off of a 10-6-3 season in 2013, which gave them a fourth-place regular season finish and a semifinals loss in the CAA tournament. In 2014, the Pride looks to continue their out-of-conference dominance, while improving their conference play to bring them back to the NCAA tournament.
One constant that Hofstra can count on season after season is their extremely successful head coach, Simon Riddiough. Riddiough is entering his ninth season at the helm of the Pride, and he has built up a strong resume in a short amount of time.
The charismatic England native has led his squad to a CAA title twice, reached the championship game four times and has witnessed two NCAA tournament victories. Riddiough has also been recognized with multiple awards, such as the CAA Coach of the Year and National Soccer Coaches Association Regional Coach of the Year.
Riddiough scored his 100th victory as a head coach early on in 2014, nearly double the amount of losses he has suffered over the past eight seasons. His popularity among his players and his success in soccer have been key to his longevity at Hofstra.
Riddiough’s crew lost seven senior players for the upcoming season, most notably starting goalie Emily Morphitis, forward Ruby Staplehurst and midfielders Kerry Cummings and Tara Kerns. This season, six seniors will be representing Hofstra on the field.
The undeniable one-two offensive punch came from senior Sam Scolarici and junior Leah Galton, who combined for 65 points last season. Galton provided a dual threat, with 8 goals and 11 assists in 2013, while Scolarici provided a constant attack with 18 goals. Both forwards possess top-flight speed, and it’s not uncommon to watch them accelerate past defenders to catch up with a long pass.
Other important players to note include sophomore goalie Friederike Mehring, who will assume the goalie role this year after some playing time at the end of the 2013 season, and defenders Ingrid Moyer and Mallory Ullrich. It will also be interesting to see who steps up as new, more consistent offensive weapons, whether they are players who were stronger in previous years (Lulu Echeverry, Jill Mulholland), or potential new rising stars.
The Pride is currently 3-2 at the time of this article, but their losses come against nationally noticed opponents in West Virginia and UConn. Most recently, Hofstra put an absolute thrashing on Indiana State University with an outstanding score of 9-1.
Looking into the future, Hofstra only has four out-of-conference games remaining, which includes Yale (7-8-1 in 2013) and Monmouth (who the Pride defeated 2-1 last year), as well as Duke (made it to the NCAA quarterfinals last year) and Virginia (currently ranked third in the nation). Hofstra certainly would like to come out of September with some statement victories.
In the CAA, Hofstra will be facing their typical rivals, with the addition of new CAA school Elon University. Elon’s formidable women’s soccer program is coming off of a 13-3-6 season in 2013, though in the weaker Southern Conference.
Other dates to look out for in CAA play include the team that knocked them out of the tourney last year, James Madison, on Oct. 3, and defending CAA champs Northeastern on Oct. 11. Despite the difficult conference schedule, the Pride was narrowly predicted to win the CAA in a coaches’ poll.