Hofstra seeks another CAA title

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After repeating as conference champions last year, Hofstra is aiming to make history this fall as the first Colonial Athletic Association women’s soccer program to achieve a three-peat.

Hofstra graduated some important pieces the 2018 team that went 16-6-1 en route to a second straight CAA title before knocking off 22nd-ranked Boston College in the NCAA Tournament, but returns some major offensive weapons from that historic season. Eleven newcomers entered Hofstra University Soccer Stadium in August geared up to continue the Pride’s championship momentum.

“We have set the bar to compete for CAA titles every year,” said 14th-year head coach Simon Riddiough, who has led the Pride to four conference crowns and six NCAA Tournament appearances. “We want to make history and get the three-peat and I think we have the talent to do so.”

Hofstra brings back the bulk of last year’s scoring, which was led by 13 goals from Sabrina Bryan and 11 tallies by Lucy Porter. Lucy Shepherd, Miri Taylor, Jordan Littleboy and Bella Richards also return to provide the Pride some additional veteran frontline scoring punch.

“We have a lot of different weapons this year,” Riddiough said.  “We have a very good core returning.”

Porter was named to the 2019 Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy Watch List after earning CAA First Team, United Soccer Coaches Association All-Region First Team, and All-ECAC accolades during a banner sophomore season. She was named CAA Preseason Midfielder of Year and was joined on the Preseason All-CAA team with Bryan.

“I think we could do some great things this season,” Porter said. I’m excited.”

Hofstra graduated the bulk of its starting defense, but will have experience on the backline from graduate student Monique Iannella, who logged 2,022 minutes and registered seven points. The Australia native, who transferred from the University of Texas after the 2016 season, was seventh in the CAA in assist with seven and netted the game-winning goal in a 2-1 win at Columbia last year.

The Pride will also have a new starting goalkeeper after the graduations of Ashley Wilson and Jenna Borrensen, who both split time in net. Freshman Skylar Kuzmich has emerged as the leader for the starting job following a standout four-year high school career at Massachusetts. Sabrina Painter, Grace Watson-Carr and Gabriella Naletilic are competing hard for the backup goalie role.

Riddiough’s roster is a mix of veterans and newcomers, and he’s excited about the potential of his 11-member freshman class that features three players from Germany. The large freshman group features three from Long Island, including North Shore High School graduate Cailey Welch, who scored 36 goals during her three-year varsity career.

Hofstra has a diverse collection of players from eight states and five foreign countries. The 10 Long Islanders who chose to play close to home includes Merrick’s Taylor Curcio, who was named to the CAA Spring Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll during her freshman year on the Hofstra campus.

“The depth is probably the strongest it has ever been,” Riddiough said. “We have 16-17 players competing for a starting spot.”

 Hofstra launches its new season this Friday night at Monmouth before traveling to sixth-ranked Penn State on Sunday. The Pride’s home opener is set for Sept. 1 against Fordham followed by another challenging Big Ten road match at Rutgers on Sept. 5. The non-conference schedule is also highlighted by a Battle of Long Island match at Stony Brook on Sept. 8 and home tilt with Columbia on Sept. 15.

The CAA season kicks off with home matches against Drexel on Sept. 26 and Elon on Sept. 29. Hofstra, which was picked to win the CAA for the second straight year in the conference’s preseason poll, battles James Madison at home on Oct. 10 in a rematch of last year’s league title game.  

All Hofstra home matches are free of charge. For further information on the schedule, visit gohofstra.com.