At the age of 5, Hofstra University senior Harri Hawkins fell in love with soccer, and he has been playing ever since.
The Cambridge, England, native led the Pride’s backline this season to five shutouts, three of which came during its first three CAA conference games.
Over that three-game span, the Pride’s defensive unit allowed just two shots on goal.
Although no one in Hawkins’ family has played professionally, his dad and granddad follow teams and have a large interest in the sport.
“I first started in primary school … my mom and dad send me to this club and since then I’ve gone every week. I’ve really enjoyed it. I played more, played in school and then just fell in love with it,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins is the middle child of three siblings. His younger brother, Owain Hawkins, is also a defender for the Wheeling Jesuit University Cardinals in West Virginia. In his final campaign, Hawkins served as a captain for the Pride and was the conference’s most solid defender, earning him CAA Defensive Player of the Year and a nod for his third straight All-CAA First Team selection.
Hawkins attributed the team’s stellar defensive season to its work ethic and strategy going into every game.
“We study the opposition for the next game, look at how they play, look at their strengths and we come up with a plan of how we’re going to stop them by looking at their best players. The whole year our main force has been continuity.”
The Pride’s backline, made up of sophomore Sean Nealis and senior Nino Alfonso, in addition to Hawkins, started every game together this season.
“We’ve played together for the best part of two years now. We just know each other. We understand each other’s games.You kind of know where each other are going to be and we’re on the same wavelength. That’s vital for a defensive group,” Hawkins said.
While Hawkins enjoys receiving individual honors and gaining recognition, he said that he’s not the only one who deserves credit.
“Really without my teammates, without the coaching staff, none of that would’ve happened. Especially Rory [Murphy], Nino and Sean. A lot of credit has to go to them for helping us get those five shutouts.”
Before coming to America, Hawkins often played left back, but has taken on the role of solely playing center back for the Pride. As he’s played soccer in the states, Hawkins has learned how to understand the college soccer game.
“It’s very different from what I played back home. It’s a lot more athletic and a little less technical. The pace of the game’s a bit quicker, so I’ve learned a different way of managing a game,” Hawkins said.
On what his plans are post-graduation, Hawkins hopes to play professional soccer and remain in America. He plans to take his Certified Public Accountant exam within the next year and move into accounting if playing professionally doesn’t work out.
“I’ve loved [living in the states],” Hawkins said. “I’ve got a big network of friends. I’ve just really enjoyed it. It’s a great country.”
Hawkins has been able to make many memories as a part of the Pride over the past few years.
That includes winning the conference against University of Delaware last season, scoring in overtime in 2015 against Delaware, winning the regular season this year at Elon University, beating Wake Forest University 1-0 on the road his sophomore year and winning the first round of the NCAA men’s soccer tournament against Lehigh last year.
“I’ve had some great moments during my time at Hofstra,” Hawkins said. “I’ve been lucky.”