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MSOC Tournament Preview: Top-seeded Pride looks to repeat as champs

The CAA tournament is ready to start and the top-seeded Hofstra Pride will host the tournament for the second consecutive year at Hofstra Soccer Stadium. The Pride earned a bye for the first round after winning the CAA this season. The semifinals start off this Friday at 4:30pm when the No. 2 Delaware Blue Hens take on the No. 6 Charleston Cougars. Charleston upset No. 3 UNC-Wilmington in the quarterfinals, defeating them by a score of 2-1. The second game of the evening will be Hofstra taking on No. 5 William & Mary, who defeated the fourth-seeded Elon University Phoenix 1-0 in the quarterfinals.

Hofstra stumbled a little to the finish line of this season, dropping three straight before defeating Elon in the regular season finale, 3-1. The Pride were 9-7-1 overall this season, but absolutely dominated conference play, going 7-1, its best CAA record since joining the league. The Pride’s one hiccup this season was a loss to UNCW, who is no longer in the tournament.

Senior Joseph Holland, who led the Pride with eight goals last year and 25 points, has only three goals this year, but is still heavily productive on offense, tied for second in points at 14 with Meshack Eshun Addy, and leading the team in assists with eight.

Freshman Luke Brown has been a huge addition to the Pride, leading the team with seven goals and 16 points.

William & Mary comes in on a four-game winning streak, including the win over Elon in the quarterfinals. William & Mary are 9-7-3 all-time against the Pride, but have lost the last three meetings between the two schools, scoring only one goal in all three matches combined.

If Delaware is able to take down Charleston in the first semifinal game and Hofstra defeats William & Mary, it will be a rematch of last year’s championship game. The No.2 seeded Blue Hens would reach the championship game for the third straight year, and play Hofstra for the CAA title once again.

Blue Hen’s forward and captain, Guillermo Delgado, won CAA Player of the Year for his efforts in the 2016 season. This is the second time he has won the award, as well as making All-CAA first team with three of his teammates: Thomas de Villardi, Ben Sampson, and Todd Morton. Delgado is currently ranked fourth nationally with 1.88 goals per game.

Hofstra has won its past two meetings against UDel, dating back to last year’s championship game and defeating them in the two teams’ regular season matchup in Delaware.

As for Charleston, they’re trying to ride the high after beating third-seeded UNCW and now try to knock off the second-seeded Delaware Blue Hens. If they upset Delaware and face the Pride in the championship game, all fingers would point to the Pride to win. Hofstra easily handled the Cougars in their regular season meeting, defeating Charleston 4-0 when they played at James M. Shuart Stadium here in Hempstead.

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