As the dog days of summer slowly slip by, the Hofstra men’s soccer team’s 2016 season is approaching on the horizon. Despite a difficult schedule last season, head coach Richard Nuttall’s squad went on to be crowned CAA champs for the first time in almost ten years.
Let’s see who is on tap for the Pride this upcoming year.
8/26 @ Stony Brook (7-8-3, America East) – Hofstra begins their 2016 campaign on the road in a heated “Battle of Long Island” game against the Seawolves. Stony Brook walked into a tough environment last year when they took on No. 17 Hofstra in Hempstead. Although they had all numbers stacked against them, the Seawolves snagged a 3-0 victory over the Pride.
Their biggest concern this season, however, will be the loss of midfielder Martin Giordano, who logged 17 points for his squad. To balance things out, they have two major contributors returning in Vince Erdei and sophomore Serge Gamwanya, who combined for 31 points in 2015. They will need as much offense as they can generate, considering they allowed the most goals per game in their conference last year with 1.5.
8/29 @ UNC Charlotte (11-6-3, Conference USA) – The Pride’s next game will be no easier when they fly down to North Carolina and square off against UNC Charlotte’s offensive juggernaut. The 49ers finished No. 25 in the RPI rankings in 2015 and for good reason. As a team, they posted 316 shots, which was best in their conference.
The 49ers will miss the talents of Kyle Parker this year, who led Conference USA with 67 shots, 12 goals and 27 points. Charlotte returns a phenomenal defense, a unit that allowed just .73 goals per game, a feat that was 12th best among all Division I teams. Also coming back is Brandt Bronico for one more season. Bronico tallied 26 points and led the conference with ten assists.
9/2 @ Boston College (11-8-2, ACC) – Hofstra continues their tough road trip to begin the season with a stop in Chestnut Hill. The Eagles, despite playing in one of the best conferences in the country (seven top 25 teams and nine Top 35), ended 2015 as the 13th best team, according to RPI.
A win here for Hofstra would be huge to help gain national respect, but do not expect Boston College to make it an easy matchup. Returning for the Eagles is freshman sensation Simon Enstrom, who put up 22 points last year.
9/4 @ Harvard (9-6-2, Ivy) – The Pride remains put in the Boston area for their next game, another one they will have to grind out. Harvard had somewhat of a down year for them last season, considering they posted 11 wins in 2014. Finishing second in the Ivy, Harvard ended up 40th in the RPI rankings. Glancing at Hofstra, who finished No. 32, this will be one of the best matchups in the NCAA to begin the season.
The Crimson loses Michael Klain, who was second in conference with five assists and goalkeeper Evan Mendez, a top keeper in the Ivy with 61 saves.
Harvard returns First Team All-Ivy Jake Freeman for one more season. Freeman led his squad with 17 points and seven goals, which was good for second in the conference in both categories.
9/10 vs. Army (5-8-5, Patriot League) – The Pride finally gets a game at Hofstra Soccer Stadium five matches into the season. This is Hofstra’s lightest game to date, facing an Army team that finished 131st in the national rankings in 2015.
The Black Knights fell to Hofstra last year 1-0 at West Point. This year, they will have to battle without their top point scorer, Cody Guerry, who netted six goals to go along with 15 points. Leading Army this year on the offensive side will be senior Nick Williams, who totaled eight points in his junior year.
9/13 @ Syracuse (16-5-4, ACC) – Hofstra’s one game home stand comes to a halt, followed by arguably the toughest match of the season. Syracuse, another team out of the ACC, is no joke, but, do not count the Pride out just yet. Hofstra pulled an upset to open the 2015 season last year against Syracuse at Hofstra Soccer Stadium, defeating the Orange 2-1.
Rounding out the year as the No. 5 team in the country by RPI, Syracuse notched 1.84 goals per game and allowed just .85. With the losses of Ben Polk and Julian Buescher, this gives Hofstra a more likely chance to walk away with a win. Polk, who was drafted to the MLS by the Portland Timbers, was tied for 21st in the NCAA with 28 points. Buescher, drafted by D.C. United, another MLS team, was one point shy of Polk last season with 27.
Returning for Syracuse will be the three-headed monster of Liam Callahan, Chris Nanco and Oyvind Alseth, who all generated 11 points each in 2015.
9/17 vs. James Madison (5-10-4, 3-3-2 CAA) – The Dukes open up conference play for the Pride, their second home game of the year. James Madison upset Hofstra last year, defeating them 2-0 in the regular season. Hofstra, however, knocked JMU out of the CAA tournament in the first round 2-0.
Connor Coward returns for the Dukes, who scored one of the goals against the Pride in last season’s match. He also led JMU with ten points.
James Madison’s problem will be on the defensive end if their 2015 woes repeat, allowing 1.63 goals per game. If this number transitions into this season, it will not bode well against a strong offensive attack for the Pride.
9/24 vs. College of Charleston (7-8-2, 4-3-1 CAA) – Hostra remains the home team in another conference duel, this time against the College of Charleston.
A middle of the pack team in 2015, the Cougars took victory 1-0 over the Pride. With the help of Nico Rittmeyer and Lelan Archer returning for Charleston, players who each notched four goals, the Cougars could once again strike fear into the Hofstra Pride.
Also, two top recruits look to help Charleston quickly improve on the pitch. Midfielder/forward Owen Myers out of South Aiken High School in South Carolina was named to TopDrawerSoccer.com All-State Team and goalkeeper Michael Waggoner out of Christian Brothers High School in Tennessee was selected to the teamSnap.com Spring All-America Second Team.
9/28 @ Northeastern (3-12-2, 2-6 CAA) – The Pride heads back to Massachusetts for one last time, but this one for a CAA matchup. Northeastern struggled in and out of conference last season, including a 2-1 double overtime loss to Hofstra. To make matters worse, their top scorer, Frantzdy Pierrot, transferred to Coastal Carolina.
10/1 @ Delaware (10-7-4, 5-2-1 CAA) – Heading into the latter half of the season, Hofstra’s schedule does not get much easier. Delaware has proven to be a pest in last year’s battle, giving Hofstra a run for their money. The Pride defeated them 1-0 in a double overtime thriller in the regular season and once again in the CAA final, winning 2-0.
The Fightin’ Blue Hens return some key players, including Guillermo Delgado. Delgado led the conference with ten goals to go along with 24 points. Also coming back is Thomas de Villardi, who notched nine assists.
Todd Morton, who is arguably the top goalkeeper in the Colonial, will be in net for Delaware yet again. Morton ranked at the top several categories in the CAA, including .90 goals allowed per game with a .814 save percentage. Expect another nail-biter between these two squads.
10/4 at Virginia (10-5-3, ACC) – The Cavaliers are Hofstra’s third and final ACC opponent of the 2016 season, which means the Pride will once again need to be at their sharpest.
A team that rounded out 2015 ranked No. 26 by RPI, they surrendered an impressive .94 goals per match.
Virginia overall did not have the highest octane offense, but they were definitely balanced. With several players contributing in every match, they return major pieces like Patrick Foss, Marcus Salandy-Defour, Edward Opoku and goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell.
10/8 vs. William & Mary (7-8-2, 2-6 CAA) – Hofstra comes back home for their fifth conference matchup in hopes of a lighter game. William & Mary, a team that found much success out of conference last year, managed to post only two victories in the CAA. The Pride once again came in clutch last season, pulling out another double overtime win, this one by a final of 1-0 against the Tribe.
The Richmond Kickers of the United Soccer League drafted Jackson Eskay, which is a huge loss for William & Mary, considering he led the Tribe with 20 points.
However, they still have an Eskay brother donning the green and gold. William Eskay, who logged 18 points in 2015, returns alongside Ryder Bell (seven goals) and Antonio Bustamante (five goals).
10/12 vs. Drexel (3-15-1, 2-6 CAA) – The Pride should have no problem coming out of this game with a victory on their home pitch. Routing the Dragons 5-1 last year, Drexel’s defense is not expected to do much better in 2016. Goalkeeper Tyler Afflerbach was at the top of the conference with 4.8 saves per game, but found himself at the bottom in several other categories, including save percentage and goals against average. His work will be cut out for him again.
10/15 @ UNCW (8-8-3, 3-3-3 CAA) - This will be an interesting matchup for the Pride. UNCW took the loss on the road last year 2-1 when they were ranked No. 24 in the country, but there is room for a lot of improvement for the Seahawks.
They do lose Colin Bonner, who netted seven goals and totaled 20 points, but Ben Fisher returns as a sophomore. Fisher scored the lone goal for UNCW last year against Hofstra, finishing his rookie campaign with 17 points.
The Seahawks also lose goalkeeper Sean Melvin, who was drafted by Vancouver Whitecaps FC of the MLS. Interestingly, however, the roster lists three goalies, including two freshmen. So, we can expect some sort of rotation in net, depending on how the youngsters perform. They have options.
10/21 @ Maryland (12-5-6, Big Ten) – Coach Nuttall’s squad has another tough task to climb deep into the season. Maryland, RPI’s No. 10 ranked team in 2015, came out as Big Ten champions, beating Ohio State 2-0.
The Terrapins lose Mael Corboz and Tsubasa Endoh (16 points each). But, they return Eryk Williamson (17 points) and Sebastian Elney (16 points). With the loss of Corboz and Endoh, expect even bigger seasons from Williamson and Elney.
10/25 vs. Binghamton (10-8-2, America East) – Binghamton pulled out a decent year in the America East in 2015 and look to be even better in 2016. 13 freshmen fill the roster following the leadership of veterans Logan Roberts and Zach Galluzzo, who tallied nine points each last year.
10/29 @ Elon (14-6-1, 6-2 CAA) – Hofstra rounds out the regular season against the team that will most likely give them trouble of becoming back-to-back conference champions. Finishing 23rd in RPI’s rankings, Elon tied Hofstra last year for the best conference record with six wins.
Elon was a sharp squad on both sides of the ball in 2015. The Phoenix shut out their opponents nine separate times while posting 113 points, which was best in the CAA. Despite a stellar offense overall, they were unable to score against the Pride in last year’s matchup, falling 1-0.
James Brace and Eduardo Alvarez are huge losses for the program, combining for 33 points in the 2015 season.
However, Jaiden Fortune will return for the Phoenix in his sophomore season, looking to increase his point total from 16 his freshman year.