By Kyle Kandetzki - STAFF WRITER
Going into the Virginia Nike Soccer Classic, the Pride knew that they would need to be at the top of their game to get results. In at least one of their games, Hofstra got more than they bargained for.
Hofstra women’s soccer took on ACC opponents Duke University and second ranked University of Virginia, and came out with a split for the weekend. The Pride won on a last-minute goal, defeating Duke 2-1, but fell to Virginia 3-1 on Sunday.
Coming into Friday’s game, the Blue Devils received votes towards becoming a nationally ranked squad, but fell short. Duke is coming from a season where they advanced to the quarterfinals in the NCAA tourney, and sat with a 3-3 record after a loss to Penn State.
The first period of action was completed with both prolific offenses staying off the board, partially due to three saves by Pride goalie, Friederike Mehring, on seven Duke shots.
But it was no surprise as to who would be the Pride player to break the scoreless tie in the 61st minute. Fresh off breaking the program goals record, Sam Scolarici kept her momentum going with an easy score off a failed clearance by goalie, EJ Proctor. It was Scolarici’s eighth goal of 2014, which put her one point from breaking the program record of 89, set in 1997.
As the final 10 minutes of the match approached, tension rose for the Pride defense and finally caused them to break. A foul in the box allowed a Blue Devils penalty kick in the 79th minute, which was converted by Christina Gibbons to tie up the game.
Gibbons nearly finished the job on an 85th minute shot, but it was quickly saved by Mehring and put back into play for Hofstra. Midfielder, Jill Mulholland then took the ball singlehandedly up the pitch and nailed it in the back of the net from 15 yards out, giving Hofstra the victory.
The win was the first against an ACC opponent in head coach Simon Riddiough’s tenure, and he says it is one of the biggest in his career.
“Though an out-of-conference win doesn’t mean as much as a CAA win, this is definitely the biggest, out-of-conference win I have ever been a part of,” said Riddiough
With confidence that they can battle with the NCAA’s best, the Pride arrived Sunday needing a similar performance to upset the second ranked Virginia Cavaliers. Virginia was undefeated and had allowed only two goals coming into their contest against Hofstra.
Their staunch defensive figures looked especially daunting when the Cavaliers were able to quickly score off of a corner kick in the 10th minute. But the Pride were able to hang tough through the remainder of the first half, keeping the score at 1-0, even though Virginia fired off seven shots.
The possibility of a weekend sweep started to become a reality when the other half of Hofstra’s dynamic duo, Leah Galton, scored the equalizer in the 52nd minute. Amber Stobbs provided Galton with the assist on a ball that hit the crossbar and crossed the goal line.
But Hofstra’s hopes wouldn’t last long as a poorly timed foul hurt the Pride once more. Jeannine Molleda would pick up a yellow card in the box, giving the Cavs a penalty kick and score in the 57th minute from Doniak Makenzy.
Virginia wouldn’t look back from there, hitting 15 shots in the half and picking up an insurance goal in the 86th minute to lead the game to its final score of 3-1.
“It has been a long time since I’ve seen this Virginia team,” said Riddiough. “A lot of credit to them for playing such a hard-fought game.”
The Pride now sits at 4-3 as their non-conference schedule nears completion. Hofstra will face off against the Ivy League’s Yale University at Hofstra Soccer Stadium on Friday, and Monmouth University in New Jersey on Sunday before kicking off CAA games the following week.
Hofstra’s out-of-conference lineup was certainly a tall order with three of their first seven opponents receiving votes in the national poll. The Pride’s match against Yale will be their first at home since Aug. 31.
“We are definitely happy to finally by playing at home,” said Riddiough. “We’ve had so many long road trips for our last few games, I think we are all excited to play on our field.”