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Pride begins quest for return trip to NCAA Tournament

As the women’s soccer season in the CAA is upon us, now seems like a better time than any to preview the upcoming season for the Pride. Coming off of a share of the regular season conference title with the preseason favorite, the Tribe of William & Mary, Hofstra is looking to build on their success from last year. The main question on most minds is how they will replace recently graduated phenom Leah Galton. The solution? A pair of returning stars in All-CAA midfielder Jill Mulholland and defensive anchor Emily Agudelo.

Mulholland is coming off of a seven goal, 17 point season which were both good for second and third on the team, respectively. Hofstra is also returning a good portion of the lineup from last year, so familiarity between the players and their mission this year should be one of the tops in the conference.

The Pride are already receiving votes in the NCAA Top 25 poll after they put themselves on the national map last year, just beating Georgetown in penalty kicks in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, before suffering a tough loss to Rutgers the following game. However the road to glory is not easily paved, and if Simon Riddiough and his squad are not up to the task, they can find themselves in a hole quickly.

The CAA looks to be locked and reloaded for the upcoming season as both the Tribe and JMU were ranked ahead of Hofstra in the conference preseason rankings, and teams like Northeastern and UNCW are salivating at the chance to knock the top three seeds down a notch or two.

The Pride’s season this year starts off virtually almost the same as last, as non-conference opponents include Penn State, Fordham, Fairleigh Dickinson, Boston University, and Columbia.  CAA play for Hofstra begins on Sept. 23, when Hofstra takes on Drexel in Pennsylvania.

Looking at the schedule, it seems fitting to say that the Pride can win a safe 12-15 games (yes, even without Galton, this team has plenty of young playmakers looking to leave the same mark she did after graduating).

Madeline Anderson is coming off of a season in which she started and played in all 21 and tacked on four goals, and played the most minutes out of the entire team. Junior Kristin Desmond is coming off a spectacular sophomore campaign, being second on the team with 18 points and scoring five goals and dishing out eight assists.

As for goalkeeping, the Pride certainly feel comfortable with senior Friederike Mehring blocking shots. She is ready for her final stint with Hofstra after having a record of 13-6-2, had four individual shutouts, and made a stellar eight saves in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament vs. Georgetown.

For players looking to make more of a name for themselves, look no further than sophomore New Jersey native Jamie Delaney.  Delaney played in 15 games last year, and had a clutch goal in a game against Delaware last year.

The young, upstart Pride will have its wits tested early when they take on #2  Penn State, the defending national champions, August 21st in Happy Valley, PA, but if Riddiough and the team can stick to the game plan, and play that up-tempo offense and stout defense that got them a tournament berth last year, there should be no reason that a repeat is not in store for the Pride.

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Women's soccer faces tough schedule in quest for CAA crown