Women's soccer journey to repeat starts Friday
The weather is getting colder, which means fall sports are starting to wrap up their seasons. But to some Hofstra women’s soccer players, the season is just beginning.
On Friday, Oct. 26, the women’s soccer team embarks on their journey to repeat as Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Champions. The complete field will be set on Tuesday, the last day of the regular season in the CAA. Hofstra finished their regular season last Sunday with a defensive 1-0 win against the College of Charleston to secure the third seed in the conference tournament.
In the opening round, the Pride will take on the sixth seed. Three teams are currently in contention for the final playoff spot. William & Mary holds the sixth seed, but UNC-Wilmington could overtake the Tribe with a win against Elon on Tuesday night. If UNCW and Elon tie on Tuesday, Delaware will take the sixth seed.
The top five teams in the tournament are set in stone, with James Madison University (JMU) (10-7-1, 7-1-1) clinching the outright conference championship with their tie against Delaware, earning them a first-round bye and home field advantage throughout the tournament. The tie extended JMU’s unbeaten streak to six heading into the postseason. The Dukes were led by junior Haley Crawford, who scored eight goals this season, a team high and one of three conference players to achieve that tally. Crawford was picked for the preseason All-CAA Team.
One point below the Dukes are the Northeastern Huskies (10-8-1, 7-2). Senior Hannah Rosenblatt netted seven for the Huskies to lead the team in scoring. Senior goalkeeper Nathalie Nidetch led the conference with seven shutouts.
The win against Charleston propelled Hofstra (12-5-1, 6-2-1) to third place in the conference. The sophomore duo of Sabrina Bryan and Lucy Porter combined for eight goals in the final three games to lead the team to a three-game winning streak to end the regular season. Their winning streak is the longest in the conference entering the tournament. Bryan finished atop the CAA in goals scored, with nine, and Porter finished right behind her with eight goals.
Charleston (10-7-1, 5-3-1) ended the year with the fourth seed in the conference tournament. Senior Laura Ortega, the Co-CAA Preseason Player of the Year, led the Cougars with eight goals. Ortega finished tied for second place in goals scored in the CAA. The Cougars impressed this season as they were picked to finish sixth in the preseason, yet find themselves in the fourth seed going into the tournament.
In the fifth seed, the Drexel Dragons (7-6-5, 4-4-1) are on a two-game win streak and three-game unbeaten streak heading into the conference tournament. Senior Shaelyn McCarty topped the team with six goals this season. Freshman Lauren Currey only started in two games for the Dragons but still put the ball in the back of the net five times on merely 11 shots on goal. Drexel’s defense was the highlight this year as they led the CAA in goals allowed, only allowing their opponents to score 16 goals this year.
The sixth seed is still up for grabs and will be decided Tuesday night as UNC-Wilmington plays Elon in Wilmington. If UNCW wins or ties against the Phoenix, they will sneak up the rankings into the sixth and final playoff spot. The Seahawks are led by redshirt junior Kirsten Bootes, who scored five goals even though she came off the bench for UNCW for a majority of the season.
If Elon pulls off the upset in Wilmington, William & Mary will hold on to the sixth playoff spot. Redshirt junior Sarah Segan scored six times to lead the Tribe this season. Segan was the majority of the Tribe offense, as the next leading scorer had two goals. Junior goalie Katelyn Briguglio ranked third in the conference in saves (77).
If UNCW and Elon tie on Tuesday night, Delaware (4-12-2, 3-6-1) will squeeze into the tournament. The Blue Hens have a limited offense. Sophomore Riley Dixon was their leading scorer with four goals. Delaware finished the regular season ranked last in the CAA in goals scored (12).
The 2018 CAA Tournament is sure to be an exciting one. All eyes will be on Hofstra and head coach Simon Riddiough as the Pride look to become the first repeat CAA champions since Northeastern in 2013 and 2014.
Image courtesy of Hofstra Athletics