It was a dramatic weekend for the Hofstra field hockey team that included a loss, a win, a trip the emergency room and nervously viewing a key conference game online that potentially could have ended its season. When the dust settled however head coach Kathy De Angelis found her program back in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Championships for the sixth straight year, putting a young team comprised of 11 freshmen and six sophomores just two wins from an NCAA tournament berth.
Hofstra (12-7, 5-3 in the CAA) officially punched its ticket as the fourth and final seed for a CAA Championships after James Madison defeated Northeastern in double overtime on Sunday afternoon. A victory by the Huskies had the potential to put Hofstra in a logjam for fourth place with Old Dominion, Northeastern and James Madison, and could very well had put a cap on the Pride’s season depending on what tie-breaker formula the CAA used. Instead Coach De Angelis and her players that viewed the dramatic game on Northeastern’s website were joyous in front of their computer screens knowing they lived to play another day.
The Pride learning its playoff fate on a computer was far from the only tense moment during Halloween weekend. After losing at 17th ranked Delaware 4-1on Friday night, De Angelis found herself traveling to an emergency room to visit key players Amy-Lee Levey and Gena Kovar, who had both got hit in the hands by sticks on two separate incidents during the game. The duo was cleared to play in Saturday’s critical game at Towson but had to wear lacrosse gloves in order to protect their hands, but both contributed heavily to the 3-2 come-from-behind win with Levey scoring two goals and Kovar registering two assists.
“Their fortitude for the game was incredible,” said De Angelis of Levey and Kovar managing to play huge factors in a must-win game less than 24 hours after incurring severe pain in their hands. “There was nothing that was going to stop them.”
With six days to heal their hands before taking on Drexel De Angelis is hopeful that Levey and Kovar will be able to play without gloves by game time Saturday at Noon. Both players have been huge factors in Hofstra winning seven of its last eight games but defeating 10th ranked Drexel will be no easy task. The Pride played the Dragons tough on Sept. 26 at Hofstra but after cutting the lead to 3-2 early in the second half, Drexel ran off three straight goals in route to a 7-3 win.
“We stayed with them statistically and had several chances,” said De Angelis of the first meeting with Drexel. “We know we have the capability to defeat a team like Drexel.”
If the Pride manage to upset Drexel in Saturday's CAA semi-finals they would then face the winner of James Madison-Delaware the next day with a chance to capture the automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. Whether Hofstra shocks the field hockey community and reaches its first-ever NCAA tournament or not, the success in 2009 with such a young team shows that the Pride have a bright future ahead.
“We’re very proud of where we ended up in a year that was supposed to be a rebuilding year,” she said. “We’re incredibly happy and proud of how we developed throughout the year.”