By Kyle Kandetzki -- SPORTS EDITOR
There are plenty of storylines taking center stage as the CAA Tournament for women’s soccer is upon us. Can Northeastern pull off the three-peat? Can a team with a single big star like Delaware claim their first CAA title? Or will Hofstra’s Leah Galton, probably the best player in program history, grab a ring on her way out?
With a number one seed for a group of hungry seniors as well as a consistent offense, it looks like there’s not much going against this Hofstra team.
They have their star in Galton and they have supplementary scorers to share the load, with Jill Mulholland, Kristin Desmond and Jeannine Molleda.
They also have a stacked back line that not only stifles opposing offenses, but also lets them barely get shots on goal in some games (see: one SOG vs. Northeastern).
They have experience all over the field. Up front, Galton is the experienced senior with back-to-back CAA Player of the Year awards (11 goals, six assists). At midfield, there’s Molleda, who isn’t always the main scoring threat, but certainly knows how to when called upon. And on the back line there is Mallory Ullrich, who not only has anchored the defense, but also knows a thing or two about passing, with a team-high six assists.
So what do they have to watch for? Star power.
Hofstra has only lost once in-conference and tied once in a 7-1-1 run.
The loss came to UNCW, where conditions were rough in a downpour of rain, and the tie came against number four seed James Madison. What do both teams have in common? Star players who can take over.
In their loss to the Seahawks, Maddie McCormick was the entire offense for UNCW, scoring both goals, including the OT winner. In their draw with the Dukes, Ashley Herndon opened up the scoring in the 81st minute before Galton tied things up later.
McCormick finished the regular season at the top of the conference with 12 goals, while Herndon compiled ten, one behind Galton.
The top seed in the conference tournament not only means Hofstra gets home-field advantage throughout, but they also get a bye from the quarterfinals, and will play the winner of James Madison vs. Northeastern.
JMU’s Herndon can be a juggernaut with her passing (six assists) coming in handy with the team’s other top scorer Allie Bunner (seven goals). But beyond that, if you can stop that duo, a win is very possible and the Hofstra defense did shutout the Dukes for 80 minutes on their first go-around.
On the other hand, there is still the pesky fifth seed Huskies. Northeastern has four players with 5+ goals but their defense is their weakness.
The Huskies had the third-highest goals-allowed average in the conference at 1.37 and have permitted 18 goals in the second period overall. That is an extreme mismatch when you face Hofstra – a team that posted over 2.2 goals per game – and put in 23 of their 41 scores in the latter half.
Beyond that, if they’re able to advance, they could face Delaware, UNCW or the number two seed William & Mary Tribe in the Championship game.
With this team’s success thus far in 2015, the Pride can notch a CAA Title simply by playing the same type of game they have all season long.