The bar has been raised for Hofstra men’s soccer.
Hofstra repeated as conference champions last fall, but were unable to replicate its 2021 postseason success when the Pride reached the third round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. The 2022 NCAA Tournament appearance was a brief one for Hofstra, with the Pride falling in the opening round at South Florida, 4-2.
“Expectations are much higher now,” said 35th-year head coach Richard Nuttall. “Our aspirations are much higher than the NCAA first round.”
The Pride was tabbed as favorites in the Coastal Athletic Association preseason poll collecting nine of 11 first place votes. Hofstra is aiming for its first CAA title three-peat since accomplishing the feat from 2004 to 2006.
Leading the charge to once again raise a CAA trophy and get Hofstra into the NCAA Tournament as the league’s automatic qualifier are junior midfielder Eliot Goldthorp and senior forward Ryan Carmichael. Goldthorp, a native of Leeds, United Kingdom, was named the CAA Preseason Player of the Year after earning Second-Team United Soccer Coaches All-America honors last season. Carmichael of Northern Island was 2022 CAA Player of the Year after placing second in the conference with 24 points.
“They are exceptional players who are athletically blessed and skillful,” said Nuttall of Carmichael and Goldthorp, who were both named to the 2023 Hermann Trophy Watch List.
The first goal this season featured Carmichael heading in a cross from Goldthorp in the second half of the Pride’s 1-0 season-opening win against Marist on Aug. 24.
Other offensive players Nuttall is hoping produce goals this season include senior Oliver Svalander of Sweden, who tallied 21 points last season, and junior Teddy Baker, who transferred from Lake Erie College in Ohio.
Senior goalkeeper Wessel Speel anchors a Hofstra defense that held opponents to one goal or less in 15 matches. The Netherlands native was a Third-Team All-CAA selection in 2022 with 45 saves and five shutouts.
The backline also features Merrick native Pierce Infuso, Stefan Mason of the UK, Nico Oberrauch of Rome, Italy and Björn van Gorkom from the Netherlands.
Infuso, a former Bellmore JFK High School standout, made strides last season as a Second-Team All-CAA selection.
“We believe he is probably as good as anybody in the country as a one-on-one defender,” said Nuttall of Infuso. “His soccer IQ is getting better every year.”
The defense also includes West Hempstead High School native Shane Salmon, a Kellenberg High School product, who is back for a graduate year after playing 16 games with seven starts as a senior.
Other local players on the Pride roster include graduate Andrew Weiner, a Mepham High School graduate who arrives at Hofstra this season after competing for four seasons at Albany. Sophomore goalie Gino Cervoni, an Elmont native and Carey High School alum could eventually end up seeing time in net during his college career. .
Hofstra kicks off its CAA season on Saturday at home against Long Island rival Stony Brook at 7 p.m. The non-league schedule is highlighted by an Oct. 3 trip to ACC power Virginia, who the Pride tied 1-1 last season.
The success of the Hofstra men’s soccer program the last two years, which included an 8-2 blowout win at Penn State in the 2021 NCAA Tournament second round, has given Nuttall an added boost in recruiting.
“We’re known as an entertaining and an attacking team and I think a lot of young people want to come here and play an attacking style soccer,” he said. “Our results are pretty impressive over the last few years so we're becoming a place that the top level recruits want to come to.”