There was plenty on the line for the Hofstra men’s soccer team in its Wednesday night home affair with George Mason (GMU) as the winner of this crucial Colonial Athletic Association match would have the inside track toward reaching the conference playoffs next month. Thanks to the continued offensive firepower from senior midfielder Rob Youhill the Pride were able to get out to the early lead and never look back in 2-0 to triumph that keeps Hofstra very much in the running for the CAA regular season title.
Hofstra’s win combined with UNC-Wilmington’s 1-1 tie Wednesday with William & Mary puts the Pride in first place one point ahead of Northeastern with four games remaining. GMU won the CAA title last year and earlier this season defeated defending national champion Maryland 2-0.
“What we said before the game is if we lose this game we are back with the pack, if we can win the game we are ahead of the pack,” said Hofstra men’s soccer head coach Richard Nuttall on the importance of the GMU win.
The home victory in front of 440 fans served as some redemption for Hofstra, who suffered a 5-0 defeat at GMU in the first round of the CAA tournament last year. More importantly the victory gives Hofstra (7-5-1, 5-1-1) a two game cushion over the Patriots (8-5-1, 3-2-1) in the battle to receive one of four available CAA playoff spots. If Hofstra were to finish in first place, it would get to host the CAA playoffs scheduled for Nov. 13-15.
“It would be really nice to bring [the CAA playoffs] here and that is what we are fighting for,” said Youhill, who leads Hofstra in scoring with 15 points.
Youhill’s 25-yard strike off a loose ball 14:31 into the game proved to be all the offense Hofstra would need. A penalty kick from junior forward Johannes Grahn with 1:51 left in the game iced it for the Pride.
Sophomore goalie Greg Cumpstone made two key saves in the first half including one that he smothered on a cross in the penalty area. His goals-against-average for the season is 1.23. “He works hard in training and comes to play every day,” said Nuttall of Cumpstone’s play in net. “He’s getting better and better by the game.”
Hofstra is next action for a critical CAA game at third place William & Mary on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Tribe (9-4-1, 4-2-1) sits in fourth place and trail Hofstra by three points in the CAA standings. “We’ve got four very tough teams to play including William & Mary on Saturday, in my opinion one of the top two-or-three teams in the conference and one of the top teams in the country, “said Nuttall. It doesn’t get any easier, it’s going to be a massive game against William & Mary and we just hope to take them one game at a time."